A purple-blue flower that looks like “The Big Bang.”


The Globe Thistle is not a spring bloomer but it’s spherical, starburst-like shape reminds me of “The Big Bang”, which is a great way to describe the month of May. Everything seems to burst out of the ground. I am fascinated year after year when I see the perennials I planted in years past wiggling their way out of the soil. It’s kind of magical.

Adding Triple Mix to the Garden

Most gardeners are filled with enthusiasm during the month of May, which is a good thing because there’s a lot to do. If you haven’t yet applied your two inches of Triple Mix to the garden bed, then refer to THE APRIL GARDEN post for instructions. To recap: the mixture of peat moss, compost and topsoil will add important nutrients to your garden and help your plants to thrive in the coming months.

Transplanting Perennials and Shrubs

There is no such thing as a zero-maintenance garden. To keep your garden looking healthy there will be general maintenance; and to keep your garden looking beautiful there will be perennials and shrubs that need to be moved, divided or planted each year. In Southern Canada and the Northern parts of the USA, the end of April and beginning of May is a great time to do this. When plants are newly added to the garden or transplanted, the root system will need some time to adapt, and greatly benefit from the cool wet spring season.

Adding Mulch to the Garden

Towards the end of May, when the plants are established and the soil has warmed up, top-dress the Triple Mix with about two to three inches of a finely ground softwood bark mulch. (Do not over mulch though, or you might kill the plants!) Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil during the drier summer months and cuts down on weeding. In the winter it does double duty, serving as insulation for the root systems of your various plants. Mulch: it does a garden good and it smells delicious too!

IMPORTANT: Watering the Garden

A reminder to all of you who planted new garden beds last fall: the first summer after planting new shrubs and perennials, it is very important to keep their soil environments moist. Remember, the overall health of a plant is compromised if the roots are permitted to dry out. Therefore, if the roots of your new plants are not yet well established, they will not respond well to prolonged dry spells. For new plants during their first summer, I suggest you give them a good soak at least every 3-4 days. (But always check the moisture of the soil first to avoid inadvertently drowning your plants!) For plants situated under an overhang or tree, extra watering is especially important. If this is difficult for you due to time constraints, it is worthwhile to consider installing a watering system, or hiring someone—perhaps a responsible teenager in the neighborhood—to take care of the watering for you. For those who are enjoying their second summer with perennials, keep an eye on them: although established, they are still sensitive to prolonged drought.

Fiddleheads and small pink flowers are signs of spring in this garden photo.


Fertilizing the Garden

Fertilizing is the key to an abundant garden. If you have been diligent about applying Triple Mix, compost, and mulch, you will likely get a good show of colour. However, some plants, particularly those with the potential to bloom for longer periods, can benefit from a little extra assistance. There is no deficit of products on the market! Visit your favourite garden centre, tell them what you have (e.g., shrubs, perennials, annuals, evergreens, etc.) and they will be able to suggest the best products for you, and how to apply them.

Lawn Care

May is a serious month for lawn care, fellow gardeners. It is important to keep your lawn healthy by fertilizing, aerating, topdressing, and over seeding. And, for Pete’s sake, do not let your dandelions go to seed! Not only for the beauty of your lawn, but more importantly, to keep the peace with your neighbours!

Check in with us once a month between March and October for tips on how to care for your garden. And remember, Design for Conscious Living® is a full-service interior and exterior design company. We can help you with everything from decorative flowerpots to the design and installation of your dream garden.