It’s hard to believe that May is coming to a close and that we are heading into June. One of the busiest months in the garden, May certainly kept me on my toes! This month had both beautiful and trying moments between planting, watering, harvesting, starting seeds, working on the new garden space, and trying to thwart the pressures of erratic weather and wildlife. Read on to find out what was growing on in my garden this month.
Sadly, the beginning of May marked the end of the tulips and daffodils. They were extraordinary this season, and I was sad to see them go. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to grow and harvest these garden beauties and have plans to plant many more for next season. As a last hurrah, I decided to make and give away twelve tulip and daffodil bunches to our neighbors for Mother’s Day. Gifting bouquets is something I hope to do often this season as part of The Growing Kindness Project, which aims to cultivate kindness and connection within communities by growing and giving flowers. It also allows me to practice my bouquet-making and packaging skills and get valuable feedback from recipients, which will help me as I work to grow a business. I placed the free bouquets in my driveway, and they were gone within the hour, all in the hands of neighborhood mothers.
As some plants ended, others began! Walks through our landscape in May revealed that the blueberry bushes had started blooming, and the bees happily buzzed around the patch, sipping nectar and pollinating the flowers. Soon after, the blooms faded and dropped, and the fruit started to form. That meant it was time to place the bird netting over the patch, and with a little effort and several helping hands, we were able to accomplish this task one afternoon last week.
This month, other flowers appeared, including lilacs, ranunculus, anemones, baptisia, and peonies. We were also able to harvest the first of our lettuce. The lilacs this season were exquisite and, with the help of some new harvesting methods I learned, lasted much longer in the vase. I brought armloads into our home and made several arrangements that smelled divine with their signature lilac scent. I love the ‘Sensation’ variety with its purple florets lined in white and wanted to add another variety to my lilac collection this month. So, I planted a new type called ‘Beauty of Moscow’, whose blooms are light pink and highly fragrant.
The peonies started blooming at the end of this month, a favorite time for me. I am experimenting with new harvesting and storage techniques, and I’m excited to see how they work. I have harvested several stems from my ‘Coral Sunset’ Itoh peony and have stored a few stems of ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and ‘Bartzella’ in the refrigerator for future enjoyment. Of course, I leave enough flowers on the plants for their health and for the pollinators to enjoy. I am also very excited to see buds for the first time on two varieties that I planted two years ago and that the three new varieties planted in the fall came up beautifully. In a few years, my life will have many more peonies, and hopefully, I will be able to share more of them with others.
This month has also been a month of planting. I’ve spent many an hour caring for, hardening off, and planting seedlings. The garden beds are starting to come alive again! I have planted out stock, celosia, love in a mist, larkspur, Dara Ammi, china asters, amaranth, gomphrena, poppies, and mahogany splendor hibiscus, to name a few. I will also plant out my dahlia tubers this week and my tomato and pepper plants. A new ‘Little Lime’ hydrangea bush joined the recently planted lilac bush, and several new perennials now grace the Pollinator Playground garden. The sweet peas finally reach tall while the ranunculus and anemones are starting to decline. Erratic weather with frosts and heatwaves has taken its toll on several plants this month. But the garden feels like it is finally on its way!
In wildlife news, besides the nesting robins, sparrows, and wrens, baby bunnies, groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels, and snakes that are calling our landscape home this spring, we have some newcomers. A family of foxes has taken up residence in our backyard. The good news is that they have kept the rabbits and groundhogs out of my garden, and they are so darn cute to watch play and nap in the sunshine. The bad news is that they have wreaked havoc in my garden. The young kits have had a great time shredding my row cover, stomping on my plants and breaking stems, ripping out seedlings and plant markers, and tearing open bags of potting mix. They also leave me daily leftovers each morning from their nightly feasts, whether partially eaten bird, mole, or snake carcasses. But perhaps worst of all, they have serenaded us each night between midnight and four am with their blood-curdling screams. It’s good that they don’t tend to stay in one place for long. I love providing inviting habitat to wildlife, but it can be frustrating when all of your efforts in the garden get destroyed.
Lastly, this month, we continued to work on the new garden space and floral studio. The molding was installed inside the shed, completing the interior. It is now waiting for shelving, a flower arranging table, and storage solutions for all of my garden tools and supplies. It will be nice to have all of these items within arm’s reach from the garden beds. We also continue to work on installing chicken wire to the fencing to keep the critters out, and with the resident fox family, the quicker it’s completed, the better.
All in all, it has been a hectic yet beautiful month in the garden. It is always a pleasure to welcome back flowers in the spring, despite all its hard work. That is what’s growing on in my garden this month; what’s growing on in yours?