My sister in England is complaining about heat and drought, my daughter in Nashville is wailing about storms and high winds, and I am lamenting all this rain. It seems there are few days in a year we are satisfied with the weather.
But the flowers are blooming and leaves appearing on the trees, the grass is green and growing, and the garden centers bustling. And this is what we have been waiting for since fall.
So what needs to take place in the garden in May? To summarize: change from planning to planting.
There are many flowers and vegetables that can go into the ground this month, but only if conditions are right. Putting a tender potted plant into cold, wet mud is not a good idea.
In the vegetable garden, you can safely sow beets, lettuce, carrots, turnips, onions, peas and beans. The cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be planted toward the end of the month, as long as the ground is suitable.
Try not to walk on the soil more than absolutely necessary when you plant. Seedlings and small transplants will have a hard time battling their way through compacted soil.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at email@example.com
And wait until Memorial Day to plant tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. (And please do not look at my garden if you pass by, because I rarely take my own advice.)
If you have a vertical space that needs screening from view, consider one of the quick-growing annual vines.
I love morning glories, although some people consider them weeds, and I let them grow over the arbor right outside the back door. Once you have grown them, they will reseed generously. The only work involved is cutting the dead vines in late fall, and I always leave this until too late, so it involves frozen fingers.
Another pretty vine is hyacinth bean, and this is an enthusiastic climber. I saved seeds from last year, and they positively burst out of their peat pellets, needing to be repotted within a week.
Now, the plants are all more than a foot high, and I have put them out this week around the supports of the swing, where I hope they will climb all the way up and meet on the bar across the top. The leaves are large, the flowers purple, and dark pods give you next year's seeds.
Flowers that may be planted in May include daylilies, phlox, coral bells, primroses and delphiniums, but remember our average day for the last frost is May 15, and because this is an average, we can expect a possible frost until even later in the month. Be prepared with old sheets or upturned flower pots at hand in case of a frost warning.
When early shrubs have finished blooming, it is the time to prune them.
I had my two forsythias cut all the way to the ground last year, then regretted it and allowed them to start up again. The old ones were shaggy and always in the way. This time, I hope to keep them in better shape, letting the natural curves develop and pruning branches all the way back to the ground where necessary.
A forsythia chopped into an unnatural ball or boxy shape is a sad sight.
And, of course, the war with weeds and slugs goes on. It is a bit like unrest in the Middle East; one spot seems to be under control and trouble starts up somewhere else.