Bailey Arboretum Horticultural Notes: May 2016

The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May. Edwin Way Teale


Weather: It has been fluky, cold and raw and grey but we are way behind in rain, with average temperatures above normal. Continue to water in any March transplants.

Pruning: To effect a neat and tidy look prune now, spring bloomers will have to wait. Check for nesting birds before you clip.

Bulbs: Deadhead and fertilize spent bulbs, divide tight clumps of daffodils.

Supports: As perennials emerge keep ahead with supports. Peonies will bloom soon,  prevent flopping and breakage

Hostas: Divide as they emerge. Though they can be divided and transplanted any time it is far easier now.

Seedlings: Begin to harden off seedlings andgarden center flats as the weather remains cool at night. Best to wait until nighttime temps are in the 50’s for planting annual bedding flowers.

Pests: Beware!!  Tent caterpillar sightings in our cherry trees. Cicadas are coming.

Blights in the Soil: If a rose bush or boxwood succumbed to blight, use grower Peter Beal’s idea, replant the new bush in a cardboard box with new fresh soil. Would it work with tomato plants?

Garden Design: Circles are in. Circular floral displays, Moon Gates, round raised beds, ponds, rings of ground cover and even discs of lawn.

Rainbows of Leaves: The green leaf is passé. Heucheras alone have over a dozen different colors in leaves including silver, gold, copper and pewter. Remember when planting these to either match or complement the flowers around them. Purple leaved coral bells planted with dark purple tulips or iris … stunning.

Summer Bulbs: Dahlias and Glads should be planted this month. Sow seeds of summer blooming perennials directly into the garden. Biannuals like pansies and wallflowers should be planted now for next spring.

Vegetables: Time to plant the veggie patch. Make sure fertilizers are well worked into the soil. Set up supports and trellises, set in paths for easy access. Secure fencing.

Year of the Cucumber: Why not? Cucumbers do best with vertical support. The Victorians had foot long glass tubes in which the cucumbers grew, perfectly straight.