May- What's in Lisa's Garden?


Lisa Colburn


In My Garden (Zone 3-4)

Lisa Colburn
Lisa Colburn is a crazy gardener, great cook and author of The Maine Garden Journal.



The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May."

-Edwin Way Teale


My garden seems to be taking especially long to emerge from dormancy this year. Winter was brutal. At the end of April, I still had snow at the edge of the shady woods. The ground has been saturated with excess water from melting snow. Despite the fact that my vegetable garden has raised beds, the soil must dry out enough before I can plant early, cold-tolerant seeds like spinach, lettuce, and arugula. Hope springs eternal - despite the harsh winter, I know May brings more hours of sunlight and warmer days.


This time of year, as I walk around the yard, I'm looking for signs of spring. My rhubarb is starting to grow. Crinkly, red-tinged leaves are emerging from the soil. Already I see the red stalks. It's time to add compost and mulch the plants with straw or pine needles. With warmer days, leaves and stalks will elongate. Within weeks I'll be able to pick some of the fat, juicy stalks to make savory sauces to use as condiments for meat. And, of course, I'll be making one of my family's favorites - rhubarb custard pie!

I've just cut branches from my Japanese pussy willow shrub. The emerging fuzzy, flowers (catkins) of this species are huge. The twisting, mature branches create additional interest. I've cut long branches to display in my entryway in a heavy vase that won't tip over. I haven't added water because I don't want the fuzzy flowers to mature further. They're perfect the way they are. I know they'll be a conversation piece.

As I write this blog post in the first few days of May, bright green daylily leaves are coming up. Buds on red maple trees are opening - creating a red, fuzzy halo. Garlic and chive leaves are a few inches long. Plants flattened by the weight of snow are beginning to resume their prior stature. Spring is happening. Crocus and a few early tulips are blooming. 'Early Harvest' tulips are always one of the first to put on a show in my garden.

Spring is definitely here but it happens slowly in Zone 3 and 4 gardens. Just when we think Winter is behind us, Mother Nature reminds us that we, like the plants we have in our gardens, must be resilient, hardy and tough. Winter will have one last laugh.




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