5/27/16: In the garden this week


Columbine, along with many other spring blooming native perennials, are giving it their all right now. Notice all the tiny bugs on and in the flowers–how many can you count? 

Suddenly the weather has turned hot–much too hot for spring planting. Plants make roots when the temperature is cool and top growth when the temperature is hot, but without enough root growth, heat will just make them droop. Be sure to water your new plantings thoroughly.

Memorial Day is traditionally the time to put in cold-sensitive plants like tomatoes and basil and to feed the lawn for the first time in the season. It’s also time to get out the deck furniture, overhaul the grill, and enjoy the outdoors. I hope you’ll get to do all that this weekend. But first, think about these garden chores:

— divide hardy perennials and grasses. Spring is the best time to divide plants, but now that the weather has turned hot, it’s too late to divide tap-rooted plants such as columbine and orange butterflyweed, and many native grasses don’t respond well once they’ve put out a couple of inches of top growth. Easy-to-divide plants like asters and boltonia can be handled for another week or so, but be sure to water well. That goes for anything you plant now–perennials, grasses, shrubs, or trees. Give them at least an inch of water after planting, and continue to water throughout the entire growing season.

— Harvest cool-weather crops such as lettuce, mesclun mix, spinach, arugula, and peas. Remove them and plant warm-weather crops in their place. Plant parsley, dill, and basil plants, and get those tomatoes in the ground!


— continue to water newly seeded lawn while the weather is hot. If you feel you absolutely, positively must feed your lawn, use a slow-release organic fertilizer. Better yet, don’t feed at all this season, or wait until Labor Day for the single feeding. The planet will thank you, and the lawn will look just fine.

Enjoy a lazy holiday weekend in the garden!


Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle) is my new favorite shrub. The new growth is this gorgeous golden bronze color all season long, and the yellow flowers complement it beautifully. Try it if you have a dry, shady spot.



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