Traditionally, the last week in May, culminating with the 3-day Memorial weekend, is my prime planting time. I usually take the entire week off from work and there is a huge push to get all new perennials, seedlings sown indoors, dahlia tubers, and all directly seeded veggies and annuals, such as zinnia, nasturtiums, and cosmos in the ground, as well as all annuals into containers. Until recently, our last frost date hovered between May 22-24, so the last week in May was generally safe (over the last couple of years, it’s been closer to May 17-18).
The edging, weeding, and mulching of the numerous flower beds waits until after the mass planting event. It drives me batty to walk around and see weeds and grass poking up through all the perennials, but it can’t be helped. With limited gardening time, triage is a necessity.
I couldn’t take the full week off this year due to our trip in April, but I had a rather successful planting weekend nonetheless (thank you Nora). Thankfully the rain held off until today.
We managed to get the 80′ hot border edged, weeded, planted and mulched. I planted 5 crates — yes, crates — of dahlia tubers (various red varieties) that had over-wintered in the basement, 7 ‘David Howard’ dahlias (last year’s tubers potted inside about 10 weeks ago), cut back the dead tulips, and planted a line of marigolds along the front edge.
The border put on quite a display last fall with all of the dahlias and rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.
To extend the blooming season, I’ve added some early to mid-summer bloomers last season, including Papaver ‘Goliath’, Baptisia ‘Solar Flare’, Bearded Iris ‘Raptor Red’, Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’, several varieties of red and dazzling yellow lilies (that I have since forgotten the name of), and peony ‘Paul Wild’.
I also finished weeding and mulching the shade garden. This border is tucked into the northeastern corner of the house and is planted largely with astilbe, columbine, ferns, and hosta. I have some bearded iris and day lilies for splash of color tossed in as well.
Yesterday was spent in the vegetable garden. The onions, shallots, beets, carrots, sweet peas, dill, borage, chamomile, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, marigolds, scarlet runner beans, and snap peas were already in the ground. Yesterday we cleaned out another 7 beds (each 3′ x 20′) and direct seeded sunflowers (‘American Giant’ and ‘Santa Fe’), cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, edamame, green beans (bush variety), pole beans, zinnia, morning glories, swiss chard, kale, and two types of lettuce. I still need to plant the acorn squash, and I want to get some bee balm, basil, and nasturtium seeds planted as well, but that will have to wait until next weekend.
I’ve decided (I think – I could change my mind by next weekend) to let the pumpkin patch rest this season and plant a green manure crop of field peas, oats and hairy vetch (an organic mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds) in the patch to be tilled-in in late fall. I still have 3 unplanted rows in the vegetable garden since I wasn’t in the mood to plant potatoes this year, and I may use a couple of those for a few pumpkins. Much smaller scale than my roughly 30′ x 50′ pumpkin patch, but I was trying to “scale back” in the veg area this year to allow more time for the mixed borders. As you can probably surmise from the list above, I wasn’t terribly successful. I just can’t seem to help myself.
To wrap up yesterday, before I collapsed from exhaustion, I also replaced a dead lilac with a new one, planted two yucca grasses in the rock garden, and a 2nd Daphne near the gazebo.
As I was digging holes for the yuccas, our friend, Tim, arrived to hang the barn quilt — a wonderful Christmas gift from Lorna and Tim (designed and painted by Lorna, and constructed by Tim). I had my brother build and hang a couple of window boxes a week ago to set off the quilt. I think it looks fabulous!