May Planting for New England Gardens

Roundabout Bird FeederThe traditional New England garden is filled with a diversity of plants, shrubs and trees that make a regal and colorful display. The choices for plants in this part of the country are crucial, as the New England winter extends well into March, and requires an early-blooming plant if the garden is to turn out by early May or late April. What’s more, the topography of New England means that some areas will have poor-draining wet soil, others will have well-draining dry soil, and still others will contain soil that’s prone to drought. Here are some ideas if you’re looking to get your hands dirty next month!

Drought-Condition Plants
Bearberry is a high-sunlight shrub that acts as a good ground cover. It has bell-shaped white flowers, tiny red berries, red bark, and thick foliage that rarely grows over 1 foot high. The plant attracts hummingbirds. Sweet fern is a tall fern that does well in the shade of New England Jack pine. The leaves are elongated, with soft serrations that grow around a central head, not unlike oregano in appearance. Its spores produce a sweet scent that has been known to attract butterflies and was, in the past, used to treat poison ivy rashes. Pasture juniper is an evergreen shrub with leaves similar to pine needles arrayed low across the ground, often with branches at sharp angles from one another. It can withstand near-arctic temperatures and full sunlight.

Moist-Soil Plants
Woodpecker Door KnockerChokeberry is a genus of shrubs native to the eastern coastline with extremely dark pigmentation that are cultivated ornamentally. They produce clusters of tiny white flowers amongst their yellowish leaves. The edible berries are used in jams and wines, and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants ever discovered. The black chokeberry is a hardy small shrub that can withstand extreme weather, wet soil, and late freezes. The plant will grow from 3 to 6 feet in height. This plant can withstand a wide variety of light situations, but prefers partial shade. In April the bright green foliage will emerge, and in May the plant sports pinkish white flowers that are grown in large clusters. During the heat of summer, the foliage remains a brilliant green. The foliage fall color becomes an eye-catching crimson.

Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) is an evergreen normally found in the Appalachian mountain range. It produces an open-trussed, trumpet-like flower roughly the size of a fist in orange, yellow or red in late April and early May. The plants can grow over 6 feet in height, and provide an attractive addition to a New England garden. Blooms persist into June. The flowers appear before the leaves or at the same time the foliage emerges. The plant prefers acidic soil and can withstand moist springtime soil. It prefers to be in partial shade, but can withstand full shade or full sun. Be aware, however, that the plant is toxic to humans and animals.

Well-Draining Soil Plants
New Jersey tea is a fast-maturing perennial that splits on the ground and comes up as a series of fleshy stalks as high as 3 feet. It has pale, palm-like leaves. The upper leaves produce series of mushroom-like white flowers in clusters at the end of long stalks. Fragrant sumac is an upward-turning shrub that can grow in a cluster up to 9 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. It has a tri-lead pattern similar to clover with blood-red flowers that cover the entire plant from end to end in late spring. The berries it produces in hanging clusters draw birds.

New England spring weather often proves itself notoriously fickle. Weather changes can prove dramatic with a warm spring day and a freezing dip the next. Plants that will successfully flourish in May can often prove a challenge to gardeners in the region. In many parts of New England, the soil offers poor drainage and standing water accumulates as snow thaws – so successful May plants should be capable of withstanding wet roots and saturated soil for an extended time period.

Country Pottery BirdhouseCottage Porch Swing

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to MySpace Post to StumbleUpon

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply