GARDENING BY RONELLA: Enjoy the fruits of your gardening labor in May
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
May 01, 2013 | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The month of May is when eleven months of effort come to fruition and everything looks its best. But to keep it that way is another matter.

In the spring is when you realize the importance of proper labeling. The area in the perennial border in which the late maturing plants are placed is often dug, ruining the plants we have forgotten. Plants such as Hostas, Bleeding heart and some of the tiny bulbs are easily killed by a little probing with a hoe or shovel. Permanent markers would avoid all this. While you are at it, mark the other, older flowers in your beds while they are in flower and easily identified. Every gardener can remember over planting some plant such as the bleeding heart and later remembering what was there. I did this with my Oriental poppies several times. Every garden store will have these little permanent markers at a small price.

You can sow gourd seeds in late May or early June in a sunny spot in light loam, enriched with a little aged manure. Plant ten seeds to the hill. Always plant gourds where you want them to grow since they don’t transplant well. They need good support since the vines will be heavy. They can be planted on a fence but it is the devil to get those little tendrils off the wires once they dry. I had such fun with gourds that I recommend a few different kinds. You can use the large gourds as houses for birds and other decorating ideas and the smaller ones are useful in decorating. I used the large ones for martins by stretching a wire between trees so they have their communal feeling but separate houses. I also had a few in trees and they were very popular. Drying gourds is a bit tricky but most gardening books have all the information you need.

When you plant those little annuals, remove the central bud at the top of the plant when it’s about six inches tall. Ageratums, calendulas, snapdragons, marigolds, alyssum and petunias are plants that need this pinching back. But leave poppies, asters and nicotiana alone.

Now you can see what you need in the way of replacement of perennials so off to the nursery you go. Carefully pick hardy looking clumps and plant on a cloudy day. It won’t hurt to hold them for a day or two rather than plant on a sunny day.

You can start planting gladiolus about May 15 and plant some every two weeks until July 10th to get blooms through September. One fun plant, which I bought several years ago, is the hardy glad. I had read that they were too gaudy to use in most beds but I love them for just that reason. Their colors are really wild and they are perennial so you don’t dig them until they get too crowded. I really suggest that you try a few.

While on the subject of planting, I suggest that you use the pellet fertilizer in the planting holes so you aren’t fertilizing all summer. Once is enough for three months. I also use it when planting perennials.

My grandmother had such beautiful flowering shrubs because she cut them often to take to a neighbor or to the cemetery. It is the best way to prune spirea, weigela, abelia, climbing roses and many others. Anytime she went to a neighbor’s for an afternoon of quilting, she took a big bunch of flowers. She also often took flowers to the little family cemetery behind the old house. I can just see her now with her bucket of water, going from plant to plant, gathering flowers. We even cut the wild honeysuckle vine on the fence down by the road. Anything that bloomed was beautiful to Ma. I loved to have Pa reach a limb on a black locus tree and pull it down so I could break off some blooms. If you have never seen their blooms, you have missed a treat. However, though I broke off branches from the peach trees, I never bothered Ma’s cherry tree. I instinctively knew that cherry tree was off limits. She fought Robins with a vengeance until the cherries ripened and she got all she wanted. Ma was not fond of birds, as I remember, and maybe that is why. She had a large, weighted gauze cover which I helped her to spread over the cherry tree just before the cherries showed color. I never saw Ma feed the birds and she didn’t tolerate a cat in her domain but was fond of dogs, “outside”. That was all right with me because she loved her grandchildren and I had lots of cats at home.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with suggestions, information or just to chat.
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