May is an *exciting* month in Colorado: it's finally time to get the more warm season plants out after the tease of up-and-down temperatures in March and April, after so much waiting for it to warm up and stay warm. It seems like every Coloradan I know complains about the snow this time of year. In April, even though my tulips and daffodils opened by mid-month and the crocus were already finished, we had a hard frost that left all my daffodils bent over and limp. We baby our plants. We cross our fingers, look to the sky, and hope for the best.
Mother's Day Weekend
I'm always surprised at the resilience of springtime bulbs. Our average last frost here is Mother's Day, give or take two weeks—for this reason, it’s always good to have some tomato plant protectors ready, just in case there's a frost or a late spring snow. I usually go for five gallon buckets, as it gives just enough warmth and protection so my tomatoes, peppers, and even peonies aren't destroyed. Mother's Day week is ideal for turning the sprinklers on and starting to water on the weeks when we haven't had much moisture; I like to top off my mulch in May with a fresh layer (more on the benefits of mulching for our low water climate here).
This first week of May, I’ll begin "hardening off" my seedlings by leaving them outside during the warm days, and eventually overnight, so they're ready to be planted in beds outside by mid May. I’ll also give all of my perennials Yum Yum mix that I buy from High Country Gardens. There are a few seeds I wait to sow directly outside until last frost as well: squash, pumpkins, marigolds and zinnias all seem to be best planted directly outdoors.
Other than a few cold season annuals like pansies that I may have picked up, I can't wait for a garden center trip in May to pick out a few annuals for my large outdoor pots. I typically go for a few shade plants for my north facing side—like columbines
(Aquilegia canadensis is a cute one), heucheras (I love them in every color), dark sweet potato vines (like Ipomoea batatas sweet caroline sweetheart red), and then a few for the sunny side of my house. I gravitate toward a mix of greens—like sage, chartreuse, and a "brown", "burgundy" or "black" green—a variety of leaf size and textures, and variety of overall shape, like an upright, a trailing, and something full and bushy. My last consideration is the bloom, knowing that annuals can provide an abundant supply of blooms all summer. I like a pop of bloom color, but usually only one, even if it's all white. I try to keep my palette limited and corresponding with my house and other perennials in my yard, and I'm always prepared to leave room for impulse buying at the garden center for this first spring shopping trip so I can grab something that catches my attention each year. That's the magic of gardening and working with flowers; there's always something new to discover, to appreciate, to be in awe of and find wonder in.
Tools of the Trade
Here at Beet and Yarrow, we've created a list of gardening basics that we feel are can't-live-without-staples. Some of these items might even need replacing on a yearly basis: Benson pruners and gardening gloves, Bentley Seed CO seeds (there's still time to plant from seed!), our Japanese shears and Hori Horis, amber glass spray bottles, watering cans and DEN sustainable soils for filling planters. All of our Pottery MFG planters work outdoors as well as indoors and come in classic shapes and finishes so they won't go in or out of style, and you can add or subtract the number of pots as needed, year over year. For a little extra hand and nail care during gardening season, we also offer gardeners salve and nail brushes, plus Pantry sunscreen and bug spray, all of which I use myself.
We've also curated these cute gift sets for indoor plant lovers, outdoor gardeners, and a flower arranging kit for the designer in your life. Of course, these are always available alongside a bouquet of our fresh flowers for practicing.
See you soon, when everything’s in bloom!