Nature has many quirky plants such as the insectivorous ones but one plant that is easy to grow in our area, and has an unusual appearance is the Cockscomb, which is a Celosia.
Celosias are native to South East Asia and South America and come in shades of yellow, pink, orange and white but, the commonly called Cockscomb Celosia, comes in a deep red-purple and resembles velvet and really does look like the comb of a rooster.
Celosias prefer a sunlit position and the soil not left to dry out.
As they are prone to fungal infections make sure they are spaced to allow air to freely flow.
If sowing by seed, mix with some seed raising mix and gently strew or spread on the garden bed or raise in pots to plant out later when at a suitable height.
The seeds are exceedingly small and, after flowering, hang the flower heads in a paper bag to collect the seeds ready to sow in spring.
A plant for flower show in May is the tree Dahlia.
The flowers are nearly always mauve with a contrasting yellow centre but they are available also in white and cerise.
They are tall plants on canes that need to be planted in a position away from strong winds and usually attain a height of one to two metres, but they can grow to three metres.
However, it is generally wise to nip the top buds to make them shorter and thicker to prevent them from blowing over.
After flowering, cut the canes to about one third of a metre so they contain at least two nodes and plant horizontally in a trench about 10cm deep.
They appreciate good compost or a sprinkling of manure. Tree Dahlias are native to Central America and Mexico and like a sunny, wind free position.
They are prone to frosts but for a tall striking plant in May it is hard to go past a Tree Dahlia.
The cabbage white Moth is starting to make its presence felt.
Two tricks to bamboozle the moths into thinking their territory has been usurped by another moth is to one, place white plastic imitation moths that are on thin stems that flutter in even the smallest of breezes and, two, plant white pansies in and around the brassicas to confuse the moths. Moths are very territorial so keep to their own area.
If you have a spare empty space away from your cabbages, caulis and broccolis, plant a sacrificial crop that you allow the moths to come and eat, leaving your other crops well protected with the pansies and fake plastic moths. A simple but hopefully effective way to protect your edible crops.
The snails are on the march – or rather slide – this month.
Beer traps are an effective way to trap them.
Use a container such as on old margarine container and bury it up to its neck and fill with beer.
The snails are attracted by the smell of yeast and will fall in and drown.
Spread dry sawdust as a barrier around the garden bed as the snails and slugs are unable to slide over the sawdust thus keeping them out of the garden bed.
Encourage lizards into the garden as a natural predator – be wary of using snail baits that may be harmful to pets and wildlife.
Happy gardening in the month of May from the Amateur Gardener.