May Gardening 2017

by Jane Ahrens

From Mélie’s Garden

I always look forward to visiting nurseries in May to see what delicious plants they are offering. It is hard not to over indulge and I recommend you try to have a list of plants that you are looking for before going. Remember that it is best to have about three plants of the same variety and color and not a whole lot of different ones that will give a spotty effect in the flower border. However, we are all seduced by something and if you are not quite sure where to put the one irresistible plant when you get home, transplant it into a larger pot, with good soil, and you can move it around in your flower beds for a while until you decide where it looks the best. Once you are happy with its placement, be sure to plant this treasure in good soil. The old saying of putting a $5.00 plant in a $10.00 hole really is true. A happy and healthy plant will thrive and be far less care in the end.

If you are starting a whole new flower border, think of the colors and shapes you would like to have in it, while you are shopping. You need to think of height, so tall plants in the back of the border, mid-height in the middle and smaller ones in the front. It is also important to have different shapes to create a pleasing design; round, spiky and fluffy. And don’t forget the leaves, it is nice to have different shades of green, so there is interest in the border when the plants are not flowering. You should also consider including some good native and pollinator plants to attract bees and butterflies to your garden.

One doesn’t have to start with an enormous amount of plant material; a border can be added to each year until you get the effect you want. In selecting new plants, I have often gathered pots of different things in the nursery and have moved them about trying to create a look that is pleasing. You can see what combinations look well together and it gives one a rough idea of how many plants will be needed to get the effect you want. The nursery often doesn’t mind because the more sales they make the better, but it can be annoying to other customers!

Once the border is planted, you will have to accept that it is always changing and that at some point, after a number of years, the plants will need to be divided or removed if they have gotten too large. Sometimes it is best to dig out everything and put the plants on a tarp on the lawn and start all over. This can be fun and you can correct mistakes that you have made and often have plenty of plants to divide and give to friends or start a new border! Most of the flower beds around my house are full of plant divisions, so that has somewhat curtailed the necessity of my nursery sprees.

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USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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