May is exploding in the colors of spring! There are myriad choices to make amongst annual and perennial flowers. Starting with perennials, Salvia is a great one for our area – choose Salvia greggii (many colors), Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’, Salvia ‘Amistad’, and more. Yarrows? There’s ‘Moonshine’, ‘Paprika’, the natives millefolium and Island pink. We have to include the three hardy Lantanas – ‘Miss Huff’, ‘Chapel Hill’ and ‘Mary Ann’. These durable perennials take a while to return from winter dormancy but will then bloom summer into fall. Soon to be available in 4″ containers.
The lowly Euphorbia has lately gained in stature Once considered a pesky weed, it has lots of use in the modern landscape. Euphorbias are not known for their showy flowers, although in early spring they make quite a statement. Rather it’s their foliage that makes them so useful. Shades of green to nearly black with others sporting various forms of variegation. Add to this deer resistance plus it is one of the few plants gophers tend to avoid.
And then there’s the lowly petunia – soaring to great heights with numerous and incredible varieties! Six packs of petunias are still to be found, but if you want the newest and latest, go for the 4″ containers. Favorites include ‘Night Sky’, ‘Black Mambo’ and ‘Cinnamon.’ Calibrachoas were developed from the petunias – they are much smaller and are great for hanging baskets. Colors abound, including star shapes and double varieties.
Here’s an example of fruit thinning – leaving the fruit approximately a handful apart. It takes time but the result is well worth it! No more scrawny little peaches or apples. Grit your teeth and prepare for a mountain of tiny fruits under foot.
Vegetable growers are showing up in unprecedented numbers! This is the last really good month to get the crops in. The supply is still good. Everyone plants ‘Early Girl’ and ‘Sungold’ tomato, but be a little courageous and try something unusual like the ‘Pineapple’ tomato or ‘Brad’s Atomic Grape’. Popular again are the small “Lunch box” peppers: the small ‘Shishito’ peppers are also in demand. The ‘Ghost’ pepper has a limited fan base. Lemon cucumbers continue to trend as they seem to avoid bitterness in the warm summer months. We have been able to secure plants of the highly touted Italian squash ‘Rampicante’. Be sure to keep up with your fertilization – recommendations vary from every week to every month.
The desire for herbs persists! Mint may not be on the top of your list. A Mint Julep or Mint Mojito of course but why not try some mint pesto? How about snap peas with Meyer lemon and mint? Strawberry mint ice cream anyone? Basil IS definitely on the top of everyone’s list. ‘Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil’ has a wonderful aroma – should be lots of uses for it!
The ubiquitous rock rose, Cistus. This is its time to shine and it can be a great addition to the landscape. Toughness and durability alongside its many forms make it an essential North County shrub. Plant ‘Blanche’ – this tallest of rock roses will grow over 5 feet and produce large white flowers in spring. The variegated form, ‘+Mickie’ adds a nice dimension to to the garden even when its out of bloom.