Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant'
Perennials and shrubs have a much easier time getting established if planted now. We have ample time until the first frost to transplant, divide and put new plants in the ground. The warm soil and cooler days, promote faster root development. Also, at this time of the year, the product of photosynthesis is being translocated down towards the root system in preparation for winter and dormancy, this facilitates root development for new plants. We also tend to have a bit more rain in fall, at least more that in the last couple of months, we hope!
Peonies, Irises and all kinds of bulbs should be planted now. Peonies specially are fuzzy about being moved in spring so you will want to get them in the ground now. You should also plant bulbs in pots now for forcing indoors in time for the holidays.
I like to take advantage of the local nursery plant sales and pick up as many good buys as I can. Last year I was still planting in early November with great success. Everything I put in the ground made it through the winter and seemed to have gotten a leg up over all other plants I put in the spring.
Corydalis sbibmienensis 'Berry Exciting'
Here is a great little find. This little Corydalis is loaded with delicate purple flowers I planted it only three weeks ago… a real gem!
One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show
May in the garden is a month full of hope and possibilities. In the perennial garden, plants are regaling us with their beautiful fresh leaves. I love the new leaves of hostas and ferns as they unfurl all perfect and bright. Sometimes, a surprise ‘volunteer’ appears in the most unexpected places. Perennials like Aquilegea or Columbine, Brunnera macrophylla and Tannacitum or Feverfew (technically and herb) will seed themselves in the fall, I prefer to have plants in colonies so, when the seedling is a good size, I lift it and transplant it to a more desirable location.
May is also a great time for dividing large clumps of perennials that are too large for their space. The technique involves lifting the entire clump and, depending on the size, dividing by half and even 4 sections and then planting each section individually. Grasses, Hostas, Irises and the majority of clumping perennials that bloom later in the season can be divided this way.
A clump of Pulmonaria lifted from the ground
...and after dividing it in three sections.
After days on end in the garden, edging and mulching, weeding and dividing, the best thing of the start of the gardening season is shopping for new plants. I always advise my clients to go shopping armed with a good list of plants for specific sites and plants suitable for your environment. How many times do we end up buying plants on impulse, because they happen to be in bloom or were recommended by a salesperson who does not have accurate facts about your individual garden’s need? When I end up scurrying about trying to find a place for a plant, that is when I remember I should have stuck with my list.
Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed. ~Lewis Gannit