Spring’s magical earth truly displays its most wonderful colors and sweet scents as April turns into May and June.

The bright yellow forsythia reflect the sunshine. Daffodils and tulips wave in the breeze, and the tiny white wild plum blossoms smell so sweet and delicious. I love their aroma and know when the backyard wild plum blossoms appear, spring is truly here. They will soon be replaced by the delicate scent of lavender lilacs, and the lovely aroma of lilies.

The deep pink azaleas are at their peak, as are the grape hyacinths.

My marigold and bachelor button seedlings are growing inside, awaiting the passing of the tulips and daffodils. Once the leaves are dry, the annuals will be planted in the tulips’ and daffodils’ places.

The perennial lilies start appearing in late May. Each variety is a different color, and each variety sends out a scrumptious aroma. By the time August comes, the sweetest of them all — the white lilies — blooms.

The perennial poppies are beginning to form the pods in which the bright, red, very large flowers will soon appear.

Planting perennials takes place in the fall. But right now, as spring reaches its peak, it’s time to plant the summer bulbs.

These, such a gladiolas and dahlias, would be perennials in warmer climates. They could be planted and left in their beds to re-emerge each year.

But in the colder climes, such as ours, the bright yellow, red, blue, purple and other-color glads must be planted in the spring, then dug up in the fall. The same holds true for the softly pasteled and bold-colored dahlias.

Many people don’t plant these and other summer bulbs because of the extra effort it takes.

But for those who love the bright, multi-bloomed spikes of glads or the soft, large-blossomed blooms of dahlias, a little extra work is worth it.

Gladiolas should be planted now, while dahlias can wait as long as mid-June to be put in the ground.

To plant glads:

Find a garden spot, preferably in full sun, with soft, rich soil. Add fertilizer if necessary. Plant the bulbs about eight inches deep, about six inches apart. They will grow well in rows or in bunches, and chances are they will need a little staking as they grow.

If you have lots of glad bulbs, plant a few every week until mid-June so the garden will have a succession of blossoms.

Mulch around the planted bulbs to retain moisture and to keep the weeds and grass down. Water frequently throughout the summer.

Once cold weather returns, dig up the bulbs and remove the leaves, keeping just the bulbs. Let them dry in a cold, but not freezing place, for a couple of weeks, then wrap them and store them in a cool, dry place until it’s time to replant them in the spring.

To plant dahlias:

These sometimes spectacular plants like full sun and shelter from the wind, but will tolerate partial shade. The more sun they receive, the larger the blossoms.

They aren’t as fussy about soil as gladiolas, but they need far more space.

Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the dahlia tubers, then place the tuber in the hole with the “eye” facing up. The eye is the point on the shoulder of the tuber from which the plant grows. Cover with soil, but do not water unless the soil is very dry. Excess watering can result in rotted bulbs.

If the dahlia plant will be small, bulbs should be planted about two feet apart. If the plant will be large, give it more space, as much as five feet.

Air circulation is important to prevent mildew, so once the plant is a couple of feet high, remove some of the bottom foliage.

Dahlias will provide lots of beautiful blossoms right up until frost. To save them for another year, dig up the tubers/bulbs before a killing frost arrives. Wrap and store in a cool, dry place until the next planting season.


Meanwhile, the vegetable garden is slowly being planted. All the onion bulbs I planted two weeks ago are doing very well. The rhubarb leaves are about a foot tall, and the stalks will soon be ready for harvesting.

Radishes, lettuce, peas and potatoes are all up, but I’ve postponed planting the major vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, beans and squash, until Memorial Day weekend. I know some can be planted now, but I’d rather not take too many chances of getting a frost.

Under the radishes, I planted parsnips. Using a quick-growing crop like radishes is a good way to mark where the parsnips are. By time the radishes have gone by, the parsnip sprouts will be up, then they will grow throughout the summer, be thoroughly mulched and harvested in the spring.

Compost contribution

Our old compost is ripe and has been spread on several of the raised beds. The goose and pigeon poop continue to come in handy when planting anything – vegetables or flowers.

We keep three compost bins going. The one we are using has been decomposing for almost two years, so it’s ready to apply. Another one will be ready next year, and the freshest one is where we put all the leftover vegetable matter now and through the summer months. It won’t be ready to be used for about two years.

Throughout the winter months, when it’s difficult to get to the compost pile because of the deep snow, we continue to save potato peels and other appropriate vegetable matter in plastic buckets in the garage. When the snow disappears, I haul it out to the compost bin.

Gardening is now at full throttle. Soon, the freshest salads anywhere will be made with homegrown lettuce and tiny red radishes. By time the last of the vegetables are put in, a few tiny, fresh onions will also be added to those great salads.

Self-seeded purple pansies blossom.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.