Michigan extended its “Stay-at-Home” order through May 28, 2020. Although garden centers and nurseries are now open, I’m planning to limit my activities to the house. My dear uncle has been in the hospital with COVID-19 for 3 weeks, struggling to get better. That changed my perspective. Big time.
I’m not going to lie. This time of year is typically spent at the garden center, buying lots of new plants, making new plans, and spending money. But something this season feels different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel the need to be quiet and cautious, and those feelings are shaping the way I garden.
I’ve lost interest in Instagram accounts with big-name gardeners getting lots of free plants. I just can’t relate. It doesn’t help me learn how to do more, with less. I want to build a beautiful garden, grow my own food, and do no harm to my surroundings (to the best of my ability).
The average gardener doesn’t have a sponsor, doesn’t have a greenhouse, doesn’t live on 10 acres of land, and doesn’t have a landscape crew. So the real question becomes, can you create a beautiful garden on a budget. I think you can. It just takes some creativity and a willingness to try. I’m planning to try hard.
With this fresh perspective in mind, here’s my May garden to-do list.
1. Keep a Garden Photo Journal
I had big plans at the beginning of the season to keep a detailed garden journal. That’s just not happening. I’m not a journaling kind of gardener no matter how much I want to imitate Fergus Garrett. But I have stumbled onto the perfect way to keep track of what’s happening in the garden.
I’ve started taking weekly photos of what’s blooming. This is an easy discipline for me to keep because it’s something I enjoy. I also plan to document the garden through the season by taking photographs from the same vantage points each week. I think this will be the perfect way to see how the garden changes through the season. The photographs will help for future planning too.
The photograph below shows a sample of the format I plan to develop to track the garden through the season. I need to finalize the vantage points I plan to use. I’ll likely have a sheet for the front garden, each side garden, and the back garden. I may decide to create a sheet to track specific close-up sections as well. Developing a good template will be key.
2. Start Building the New Front Garden
I’ve been systematically removing the turf in our front yard. I wrote an article touching on my plans to create a new garden border to get rid of more lawn. This month, the work begins.
3. Install Stone Path and Garden Gate
Our original plan this year was to fabricate metal garden gates. The new plan is for wood gates. We’ll build the gates using leftover lumber from previous projects. The building starts this month.
We’ll also install a stone path that leads from our garden into our Mother-in-law’s garden. You can see the area in the photo below. This section of the garden has become shady and can no longer support turf.
4. Dig Up Old Alliums That Have Become Unsightly
I love alliums, but they have become a bit unsightly in my garden. They have multiplied like crazy and tend to leave a heap of untidy foliage. It’s time to dig up these alliums and replace them with something more suited to my garden.
Our garden has become increasingly shady as the trees mature. There is very little space for plants requiring full sun. At one time, the garden had quite a bit of full-sun sections. The alliums occupied those areas. But now, no sun means sickly-looking plants. It’s time to take a hard look at what’s working and what isn’t and make some changes.
5. Plant Patio Containers and Window Boxes
I’m excited to figure out how to use the plants I have grown from seed to design my summer containers and window boxes. My original plan was to grow flowers from seed to use in the garden. Now that it’s harder to get live-plants delivered, I’m going to see what can be used for containers and window boxes. The photograph below shows some of the seedlings I plan to use in containers this season.
There you have it. My top 5 tasks for May. You can check out all the things I finished for the April garden to-do list here. Happy Gardening!