The Garden Fanatic

Steve Kawaratani

“April is a a promise that May is bound to keep . . .”

-- Hal Borland

“Follow with May’s fairest flowers.”


-- Percy Bysshe Shelley

The sunny, second half of April was a gardener’s dream and the first

day of May promises more of the same. The time spent in the garden last

month (you know who you are) will come to fruition with the fair flowers


of May. And fair your garden must look; after all Mother’s Day and

Memorial Day are celebrated best at home.

Cherish the memory of those April showers. Expect little or no rain

during the next five months. It is imperative to water your garden

thoroughly during May, on an as-needed basis. Mulch plants to reduce the

need for water and be on the lookout for insect pests and diseases. Your

questions to the Plant Man for May included:

Q. What is the origin of May Day?


A. May Day originated from the fertility festival of Flora, Roman

goddess of spring. It was traditionally observed in England with dancing

around the Maypole.

Q. My gift cyclamen has finished blooming. Now what?

A. Cyclamen are best grown outdoors. Keep it in a cool, filtered sun

area. Leaves will turn yellow if conditions become too warm. During the

fall, gradually withhold water until the plant becomes dormant. Store the

pot in the garage and bring it back out in the early spring. With warmer


weather and water it will return with splendid flowers.

Q. Do I need to do anything special for my lawn?

A. Lawns need regular mowing. Remember to set the mower higher as the

weather warms. Your lawn will respond favorably to monthly applications

of fertilizer throughout the summer. Scotts Turf builder or Best Turf

Supreme are good choices.

Q. My winter color is fading fast. What should I plant now?

A. Early-flowering annuals like pansies, snapdragons and primroses are

now finishing their blooming period and should be replaced with others.

Petunia, marigold, delphinium and geranium are good choices for the

expected spring weather. Don’t forget to remove the tip bud to encourage

bushy growth.

Q. Plantman. What do you know about Mother’s Day?

A. Anna May Jarvis conceived the idea of an annual day to honor

mothers after attending a memorial service for her mother. She inspired

President Wilson to proclaim the first national Mother’s Day in 1913. The

second Sunday in May has become the biggest business day of the year for

U.S. restaurants and florists.

Q. Mr. Plantman, how do I get rid of scale on my indoor palm?

A. Scale is a difficult pest to overcome. I generally recommend moving

the plant outdoors and using a combination of Ultra Fine horticultural

oil and Malathion. If it is impossible to move the plant, repeated usage

of an indoor plant insecticide may eventually work. Don’t let this one

get out of control and remember to spray the underside of the fronds.

Q. What can I do to keep mildew off my roses this year?

A. Overcast weather contributes to the mildew found on roses. You

can’t control the weather, so your options are to spray fungicides for

control, ignore the problem, or move further inland. Good cultural

practices such as avoiding excessive moisture on leaves during watering,

removing badly diseased leaves and not stressing plants will go a long

way in keeping the problem to a minimum.

May is a busy month . . . after running around the Maypole with

Catharine, we’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo at Javier’s. The Dodgers

are back in town and that means Austin will be treating me to some tube

steaks (catsup and onions, hold the mustard) at the stadium. Mother’s Day

plans are still pending but Catharine’s Day is set for the 26th (which is

also her mom’s birthday). Whew, I’m glad I got a lot of gardening done

in April. See you next time.

* STEVE KAWARATANI is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery, 1540

South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist,

Catharine Cooper, and has three cats. He can be reached at (949)

497-2438, or E-mail to