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GARDEN FANATIC:The fair month of May

“Follow with May’s fairest flowers.” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

“A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.” — Robert Frost

In the aftermath of those surprising 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 don’t forget to be on the lookout for insect pests and diseases.

The time you spent in your garden last month (look in the mirror, 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.

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Your May questions to the Plant Man included the following:

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

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A. Early-flowering annuals like pansies, snapdragons and primroses are now finishing their blooming period and should be replaced with the flowers of summer. Petunia, marigold, delphinium and geranium are good choices for the expected warmer weather. Don’t forget to remove the tip bud to encourage bushy growth.

Q. What is a May Day tree?

A. Perhaps you are referring to the May-tree or English Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). Members of the rose family, these trees have lovely spring blooms and showy fruit during the summer. Margina, even in the frigid Canyon, enjoy this one when you’re visiting your less fortunate friends who live east of Laguna.

Q. 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. florists.

Q. 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 applying a combination of a horticultural oil and Diazinon. 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?

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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.

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.

May is a busy month. Having already chased Catharine around the Loretan Maypole several times, I’ll celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Jim and John’s stunning trailer. Then, all of the Moms will be joining us for brunch on Mother’s Day. Finally, Catharine’s Day is on 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 happily married to local writer Catherine Cooper and has two cats and three dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-2438, or by e-mail at plantman2@mac.com.

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