May in the Southern California Garden
Each month has its special joys and tasks in the garden. Below is a suggested calendar for May. Remember that gardening depends on the weather, so tasks, bloom season and activities may vary from year to year.
You can download this calendar at: http://www.slideshare.net/cvadheim/monthly-garden-tasks-may
Best of Show:
§ Flowers: tree/shrub: *Carpenteria californica, Ceanothus ‘Frosty Blue’, Fremontodendron ‘El Dorado Gold’, Heteromeles arbutifolia, Sambucus nigra ssp cerulea; smaller shrubs: Calystegia macrostegia, Clematis ligusticifolia, Coreopsis spp, Diplacus spp, Eriogonum fasciculatum, Lathyrus vestitus, Lonicera spp., Salvia apiana,*Salvia clevelandii, Salvia leucophylla, Trichostema lanatum; Annuals/perennials/bulbs: Symphyotrichum (Aster) chilense, Achillea millefolium, *Aquilegia Formosa, Argentina egedii, Collinsia heterophylla, Dudleya spp., Heuchera spp., Lillium spp., *Mentzelia lindleyi, Mimulus cardinalis, Phacelia spp., Potentilla glandulosa, Sisyrinchium californicum, Trifolium spp., Triteleia laxa, Verbena spp.
§ Fruits/berries: *Berberis (Mahonia) spp, * Rhamnus spp., Rhus integrifolia & ovata – all begin to be interesting
§ Make a plan for removing your lawn, ivy patch, old tree/shrubs or other plants that need removal. Explore methods; see about hiring outside help if needed. This is a really good month to get started on ‘removals’.
§ Check mulch; add/renew if needed
§ Move bulb pots to cool dry place
§ Repair damaged hardscape if needed
§ From seed: collect seed from spring wildflowers
§ Riparian/pond and other Zone 3 plants from now to summer
§ Desert plants from now to summer; water
§ Direct-seed warm season sod grasses
Watering: key month to monitor soil moisture
§ Taper off water for spring bulbs when the leaves start to wither
§ Taper off water for early spring wildflowers; keep watering late-bloomers until flowering ceases.
§ This can be a tricky month for watering – soils/containers can dry out before you know it. So check soil moisture weekly.
§ Turn on irrigation/ begin routine summer watering schedule as soon as summer water is needed.
§ Prune to shape/train: Ceanothus, Arctostaphylos, Carpenteria, and other flowering shrubs once they've finished blooming
§ Prune back Buckwheats (Eriogonum), mints and other perennials and sub-shrubs if they’re growing into pathways.
§ Oil and sharpen your pruners, saws, etc. – store
§ Weed out garden to prevent weeds from going to seed
§ Watch for aphids on new foliage; if not being taken care of by lady bug larvae, blast off with a stream of water or use mild soap solution (several drops dish soap to liter of water)
§ Make a May basket for a friend or neighbor
§ Take a flower arrangement to a library, nursing home or other worthy recipient
§ Make Lemonadeberry ‘lemonade’ if fruits ripen
§ Pick ripe Berberis fruits; use for jelly or other recipes; dry for tea; use for dye
§ Dry or extract flavors from native mints for year-round tea and flavorings
Enjoying the garden: major enjoying month
§ Just take it easy; days are warm enough to enjoy sitting, dining and meditating in the garden.
§ Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of a garden.
§ Take a field-trip with friends to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden or some other ‘far away’ place. Make a day of it
§ Watch the warm weather vegetables grow; some may start to flower in warmer gardens.
§ Try a new recipe using something grown in your garden