The Garden Diva in May

Bedding Plants

Dear Readers, it is here! The month of May, when all is blissful, all is green, and gardens are finally planted.
So then, you are all of f to the local store to buy your bedding plants? Not quite so quickly, dear reader. Learn from The Garden Diva’s (TGD) folly, read some of her mistakes, so you don’t have to make your own.

Over the years, TGD has often found herself promising the tres wonderful garden diva husband that she would only purchase a certain dollar value of bedding plants. (No dear reader, you don’t want to know how much. Sufficed to say that there were zero’s and decimal points.) After many sad reckonings, TGD now takes her garden plans, carefully calculates the number of bedding plants she requires, and makes a list. Here is the important part, dear reader, she only purchases what is on the list. (Honestly dear reader, why are you snickering? Have you been talking to the garden diva husband again?)

Next, consider when you want to plant. Remember, the average last frost date is May 7th. (TGD plants all her garden seeds around this time, if not earlier). It is often best to wait a bit until putting your bedding plants out – many people go to their local garden centre or store on the first day of the May long weekend. TGD tends to go before this, to ensure that she has the absolute best selection, and the healthiest plants. Often she will go on the Friday night. This is when the veteran gardeners go. Wear comfortable shoes and have a list. You will need them.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when buying bedding plants is the health of the plant. Choose good sized plants with healthy leaves. Examine the plants closely. The soil should be moist. Avoid plants that are very dry (the plant will feel very light and the dirt will be light brown and hard) or plants that are very wet (water drips out of the soil when squeezed, or there is evidence of moss or mold).

Check for sun damage – yellow or brown spots on leaves, or insects – small portions of the leaves looking chewed, holes in the leaves, bugs on the undersides of plants or rolled up leaves.
Look at the roots, they should not be coming out of the bottom of the plant cell. Carefully grasp a seedling at it’s base, pull it out of the plant cell. You should be able to see a good root system, but avoid roots that are spiralled around the plant – these are root bound and may not transplant well.
Choose plants that are a good size, and quite bushy. You don’t want spindly little seedlings that will die in full sun. Review TGD’s columns from May 2007 regarding planting, and the April 2007 column on getting your dirt ready.

Finally dear reader, a note about where to buy your plants – feel free to purchase your geraniums, your petunias and your pansies from where ever you can find them on sale (just get healthy ones). If you are purchasing more expensive and exotic bedding plants, or if you are purchasing perennials, do not purchase those from anything other than a garden centre. A garden center can provide you with good information about the location to plant your new darling, any extra soil amendments, and if necessary, any overwintering measures to take. Really dear readers, a knowledgeable garden centre is a gardener’s greatest asset.

TGD lives and gardens in Edmonton, with the trés wonderful gardening diva husband and the non-gardening dogs. She insists that every yard should have a flower or two. Next month she shall talk about your front lawn. Yes dear reader, yours. The one with all the weeds in it.

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8 Responses to The Garden Diva in May

  1. Tash says:

    I’ve never had a garden that I even felt compelled to work on or plan until I moved to my current home. And last year I actually (get this) devised a color/height scheme for the big bed in front of the porch. And I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’m filling in a few areas this year with some plain ol’ green (suggestions? full sun?) and maybe some contrast-y annuals in the front.

    This year’s projects are many: the big corner bed, slanted down to the street corner itself, which is barren save for some yellow iris I planted this year. Thus far I’ve been inspired by creeping flox trailing down the side, but need some other things.

    There are the marigolds which I’m told keep away mosquitos? Which will be planted in containers and placed by the play equipment, which sadly is near my neighbor’s mosquito drawing pond.

    And the other big project is LAVENDER. Need a place, need an inspiration.

    I probably won’t get that far. I should send you a blueprint of our yard and see if you have any great ideas. It’s amazing though the rewards if you just plan for a few minutes. I’m so impatient, always just throwing things in the ground and pots. But so glad I took a few minutes last year.

  2. Aunt Becky says:

    Oh how I heart to garden. It sounds weird but it totally quiets my mind. Do you find that this happens to you, too?

    I’m doing mainly perennials this year, some nice rose bushes and the like. They’re sitting outside right now, actually waiting for the sun to go down so that I can plant.

    This afternoon, to take my mind off the regular crap, I planted some grass seed. It was not very exciting 🙂

  3. E_Sharp says:

    I took a chance, and planted some perennials and some annuals about 3 weeks ago, during a warm period.
    They have managed to survive the subsequent cold snap.
    I need more! I can still see dirt.

  4. ~Jess says:

    Every year, I say I’ll stick to a budget…I’ll only spend $XX in the store. I do, then I go on to the next store and spend that again, and again, and again…

    Last night I spent an hour roto-tilling a section of our lawn to start a veggie garden in…we’ll see what happens there.

    Good luck with your garden!

  5. Mrs. Spit says:

    Ahhh, Tash, I consulted the Garden Diva on your behalf, and after she got finished chocking over the fact that you are in a USDA 7 growing zone (TGD is alas, a 3) and you can pretty much grow whatever the hell you damn well please. . . She said sure, send plans and she’ll take a look.

    She also said to tell you that marigolds contain pyrethrium, which keeps all sorts of nasty bugs out, but not, alas mosquitoes. She suggested you throw some fish into your neighbours pond to eat the larvae. Barring that, a cup full of bleach, or even a fountain to keep the water moving should help things.

  6. Mrs. Spit says:

    Aunt Becky:

    I do find gardening to be soothing. I can create and nurture life, and if something dies, it’s not the end of the world. Mostly what I love is, I think, exactly what you describe. While I am gardeneing both my mind and my body are so focused on what I am doing that there is no room for other thoughts. And given that my brain is often overcrowded by thoughts, this is a good thing.

  7. Mrs. Spit says:


    Do give your plants a chance to grow. They will often fill in, and you don’t want a solid wall of green, unless you are trying to fill in a bed that is otherwise prone to weeds. If you tell me where you are, I might be able to make some suggestions.

  8. Mrs. Spit says:

    Hi Jess:

    Mr. Spit is getting a bit firm about how much I spend on plants. Having said that, after three years, and given that I start so much from seed, it’s getting a bit better. I think there will be one last bed we put in this year, where we put Gabe’s tree, and that will be it.. . .

    Honest, why are you laughing at me? Actually, our yard is so small that I can’t fit many more beds in.

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