The first flowers of elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) will open any minute. This is one of those plants that we should see everywhere in our area but that has, sadly, been replaced by Norway maples and yew and Asian euonymus and and pachysandra. What are the poor birds to do? Come to my garden in July when the berries ripen and spread the seeds around, I hope.
Now that the warm weather has settled in and the nights are getting steadily warmer, garden chores should shift from spring to summer mode:
– continue to plant warm weather crops such as basil, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, and beans, as well as annuals such as begonias. Begin to stake tomatoes and other large plants immediately on planting. Pick spring greens often and remove them when they begin to bolt.
— throughout the growing season, monitor your vegetable garden for pests and diseases and take immediate action (such as hand-picking Mexican bean beetles before the infestation gets out of control, and removing wilted plants immediately.)
– it’s just about time to stop planting and dividing perennials and woody plants. Be sure to keep newly installed plants well-watered throughout the growing season. The recommended amount is 1 inch per week during dry spells.
– do not do any pruning except removal of dead or diseased material while woody plants are in active growth. They are using all their energy to accomplish the vital tasks of leafing out, blooming, and setting fruit. They have no energy to spare for making scar tissue. The next window of pruning time will come in midsummer.
– for better bloom next year, remove the flowers of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilacs after they finish blooming. The exception, of course, is fertile, fruit-bearing shrubs such as native species. The lovely flowers on this Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) will turn into purple berries that the birds will devour in August.