Avert the Garden Mayhem of May! Dig, mix, plant…repeat

It’s an overwhelmingly busy time of year in the garden if you live in the Intermountain West.  The temps have climbed to a moderate 60-70ish most days and the soil is warm and ready for digging. Now you may be thinking, “Well, that’s what gardener’s love to do so really, why the drama about it being overwhelming?”

The answer to that is there is a short window of time before the temps climb real high and the air gets real dry.  Plants that need new homes must be moved, over-wintered tender perennials that need a jumpstart on the growing season must get in the ground and visiting nurseries for new, unique annuals and other additions must be at the top of the list too.  All this, plus planting your indoor seedlings outside, planting vegetable starts and taking the time to harvest the first edible arrivals of the season.  It can be complete chaos and disorder, just plain mayhem.

I notice here more than anywhere else I’ve lived the amplified pace of spring gardening.  You can’t wait around and get all your perennial moves made and then go hunting for the fun stuff.  If you don’t go out and get some seriously cool annuals in May than you better be satisfied with geraniums and petunias to showcase your ‘creative hand’.  Same goes for moving plants.  It’s not the classic northwest – you can’t move plants in mid-July (because you have finally figured out where they will be most appreciated)  put a little water on them and have them bounce back to full strength in a few days. With the heat and aridity prone to this area you figure it out by June 1 or things are staying put until Fall.

Not to mention the mayhem…or did I already mention that…

You know what I mean…  The wandering around for 10 minutes looking for the spade that was just in hand…but can’t be found because it’s on a rock near the magnolia tree where you left it when taking a closer look at the bloom about to open, but then suddenly you noticed the new growth on a conifer and rushed away to feel the soft needles…

Or the realization that the lovely just-picked radishes are drying out as they sit in the sun… they didn’t make it to the kitchen because weeds caught your eye and hands along the way.

It’s the mayhem of May.

The solution?  Dig, mix, plant… repeat.  Follow this mantra to the best of your ability. Dig the hole, mix-in the organic compost and plant the plant.   Repeat this as fast as possible until the back muscles are so tight you fear straightening up completely for the next few days may be out of the question.

I did this yesterday while planting some of my favorite tender perennials and some new annuals.  I absolutely love Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ and they are going in a prime location of my mixed border. I experimented with overwintering one in my garage this year and it was a success for any Zone 6 gardeners that also love this plant.  The flowers on this Salvia are a rich cobalt blue and profuse once the blooming starts.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' (cold hardiness Zone 7) loves full sun

I have purchased  a few annuals (need to get more or be boring) and one is a new selection by Proven Winners called calibrachoa Superbells ‘Blackberry Punch.’  It is a new introduction featured in magazines and on websites this year and has beautiful deep wine to black flowers with a soft fleck of yellow in the center.  Like all calibrachoas they are vigorous, like heat and don’t need to be deadheaded.  They are great for containers as they provide a trailing effect or in flower beds as they wind through the garden but be careful of overwatering.

Hummingbirds are fans too.

I stayed focused long enough to stuff some herbs (Gold Lemon Thyme with a wonderful smell) into my mixed border and plant some of my indoor vegetable seedlings in the raised beds.

Dark Opal Basil
Heirloom Cherry Tomato - Koralik

But then the mayhem …

Magnolia 'Elizabeth' just about ready to open

it wasn’t long until I was in the middle of it…again.


One thought on “Avert the Garden Mayhem of May! Dig, mix, plant…repeat

  1. Ha ha! You’ve described my feelings perfectly concerning this time of year! I just assumed all gardeners went through this craziness, but now I realize how wrong I was. It is total mayhem, isn’t it? You’re so right, there is no way you can move a plant in July with any hope it will survive our heat.
    Good to know you can overwinter black and blue, it’s a lovely plant, I’ll have to give that a try.

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