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BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Mary’s May in the Garden
Kerry Peetz
/ Categories: Opinion, Commentary

BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Mary’s May in the Garden

By Kerry Peetz

"Mary is a garden of delights into which are sown all kinds of flowers and spice plants of the virtues.” — St. Jerome.

By now, we are all preparing our gardens in some way; planning, cleaning, pulling, sharpening, trimming, dumping, fixing and planting. Our reward, after our Colorado winter, is a rich, healthy glow of green. All we have to do is look around and feel the excitement of a new season. Here are a few suggestions to keep the garden in tip-top shape and at the same time honor Mary, Our Blessed Mother.

• Water restrictions are still in effect. You choose which three days of the week. Water before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. to prevent evaporation.

• The end of May and early June is all about planting. Nasturtium, marigold (which means: “Resplendent Mary,” from Mary — regarded as the Virgin Mary — and gold, a symbol of splendor), zinnia, sunflowers, hyacinth bean vine, morning glory (Our Lady’s Mantle in the Mary Garden) and cardinal flower vine seeds can be sown directly in the soil.

• Check containers daily, watering when necessary; they dry out quicker than plants in the ground. If you choose the ever-popular petunias they are considered “Our Lady’s Praises” in a Mary Garden. Protect hanging containers from high winds.

• Herbs like basil, chives, cilantro and parsley, can also be grown from seed. Most herbs need no fertilizer and little water. Cut herbs early in the morning and harvest just before flowering.

• Mulch 2–3” to retain moisture and reduce weeds.

• Speaking of weeds, now is the time to stay on top of weeds before they spread. Do a morning inspection and pluck them out when they are young and easier to pull from the soil.

• Transplants of tomatoes, cucumber, summer squash, and peppers can be planted after the last frost.

• Directly sow seeds of corn, lima beans, cantaloupe, pumpkin, watermelon and zucchini.

• Plant gladiola corms weekly to extend bloom periods into the late summer and early fall months.

• If you are looking for a beautiful ground cover for a partly-shaded or deeply-shaded area, Lily-of-The-Valley blooms in May and June with white, fragrant, drooping flowers; they are “Our Lady’s Tears.” This plant is a fine perennial to grow in our diocese. 

• Lawn: if fertilizer has not been applied, this is the time to do it.

• Regular garden maintenance begins as May ends and June progresses. Deadhead perennials to encourage more blooms. Stake leggy plants like delphinium and foxglove.

• Many fruit trees, especially apple trees, will shed small fruit around this time. It’s a natural thinning process called “June drop.” Additional hand thinning can also be done at this time if increasing the quality of the harvest is desired. Spacing fruit 8 to 10 inches apart on branches and removing the weaker and damaged fruits will greatly benefit the healthy fruit.

• Control the spread of raspberry plants by cutting back sucker growth.

• As lupine blooms fade inspect the plant for aphids. An infestation of these tiny white insects can occur overnight and kill the plant. Spraying plants thoroughly with an insecticidal soap should help get rid of them along with a good prayer or two.

• Prune spring flowering shrubs such as lilac, weigela and forsythia after they finish blooming.

• Pinch back aster and mums for bushier plants and more flowers this fall.

• Don’t forget to find a comfortable seat in the garden, have a glass of something cold and refreshing in-hand, sit down, take a deep breath and behold the intoxicating beauty of Mary in the garden.

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