This is my favourite time of the year to travel around the Irish countryside. I absolutely love the fresh intensity of the various colour greens that comes with growth of new leaves.

Also spectacular in late May are the wild Rhododendrons in the West of Ireland and Wicklow and scent of lilacs. But my absolute favourite is the native Bluebell seen from late April to May. They spread like a blue blanket under trees and on grassy banks. When I am asked what I the best time to visit Ireland I never hesitate. For me it has to be May and the first two weeks in June. – even if the weather does not behave! So in spite of being quite a hectic time in the garden I must pause and take what is all around us – the magic of nature. It does wonders for the mind and spirit and there is no work involved!

A north wind in April means the growth has been slow but it seems to be improving at last. It’s hard to know where to start with all that needs to be done in the garden.

So here are a few jobs to tackle….

Potatoes need to be banked up and kept weed free by running a hoe down the side of the drills. All my leeks sown from seed earlier should be in the ground by the end of May. I must remember to keep them well watered for the first month and later too if we get long dry spells (here’s hoping!). Turnips, parsnips, kale should all be planted out by now.

I grew two cucumber plants in the greenhouse last year and will do the same this year. However, I will train them up a string as they sprawled all over the place last year. They need a weekly liquid feed.

I grew basil from seed in small pots of half compost and half course sand as it doesn’t germinate well in wet feet. I will put it in the ground when 8 cms high, between the tomatoes as they say it improves their flavour. I mustn’t be in a hurry to plant out courgettes as they don’t do well if put out too early. I will leave until late May.

It’s time to harden off summer bedding plants which are in the greenhouse. Some summer seeds can be sown directly in ground outside now. Best of all is night scented stock. Sow near an open window or door for a heavenly scent from July onwards. Love-in-Mist, nasturtiums, marigolds, and many others can be sown now. I took a few cuttings of plants last summer and autumn which should be in growth now so I will transfer them into pots.