We have had quite a string of rainy days. Rainy and cold, every day. Thunderstorms and the downpours to go with. It is plainly too wet to plow. The only gardening we are doing is in containers. Water logged soil can have every last bit oxygen squeezed out of it by foot traffic. Or a wheel barrow wheel. My advice? Stay off of soggy soil. Wait. Some weather conditions are perfect for working the garden. Cool and dry is great. Warm and barely moist is friendly. Hot and dry is no gardeners idea of an ideal working situation, but it beats cold and soggy. The winter was long and vile, and the spring has been chilly and off putting.
We have had a few hours of dry periods between storms. It is clear that the cold tolerant annuals are are not the least bit fazed by any of the unsettled weather. Thank heavens for spring plants. May is never a summer month. But a moderate May makes for a spring cool and dry enough to work. Cool night temperatures mean the spring flowers persist. The difference between 2 weeks of magnolia flowers and two days has everything to do with temperature. The chilly rain has been great for all the plants, but unfriendly to gardeners who only want to get outside and stay there.
There are those plants that handle the chill and the rain without complaint. The parsley I put outdoors in April never fusses. The pansies and violas bow their heads in the rain, but they spring right back. Interested in some spring spunk for containers-try parsley, osteos, pansies, violas, stock, nemesia, godetia, lavender, rosemary, lettuce, nemesia, ornamental cabbage, bok choy, spring flowering bulbs, early season perennials – gardeners have a long list of plants that thrive in a chilly and rainy spring season. The tulips at the shop are glorious, as are the grape hyacinths and hellebores in my garden.
As for what is planted in the ground in my rose garden, I tread lightly. The roses have been devastated by the winter. 5 of them are dead, the other 15 or so died back to within 8 inches of the ground. The new growth is so vigorous that I haven’t the heart to take them out. I don’t have the heart to post a picture of the carnage either. They did after all survive the winter, but it’s not so swell looking right now. The asparagus is four feet tall already. I have not been able to walk in there to cut it. The anemone Honorine Jobert, brunnera and boltonia are growing. The canes of all of the climbers on the wall are dead. New shoots are coming from the ground. The sopping wet ground and wet foliage says keep out.
No gardener likes to stay away. They like to wade in and sort everything out. But it isn’t a good idea to wade in just yet. So the garden news in my zone is about what is stalled, on hold and not yet going on. Hold off as long as you can stand it.
May 18, I still have a winter fleece on. I have yet to step into my garden. The little pleasures? The grass seed in the bare spots in the lawn seemed to sprout overnight. The variegated lily of the valley is up and blooming. The delphiniums are 30″ tall already. I can tell this much from afar. A bucket planted with ferns, hosta and streptocarpus is a pleasure one can enjoy up close.