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Midwest: May Gardening

A Kansas Master Gardener shares spring tips and local news

Laura is a member of the Johnson County (Kan.) Master Gardeners, and its volunteer coordinator. She gardens outside Kansas City, Kan.

Top “to do’s” for May:

  • Plant annuals in spots around the garden to provide year round color
  • Plant annuals and small perennials in containers on the patio
  • Take down the birdfeeders and put up hanging flower baskets on the deck
  • Fertilize roses

A frequent question this time of year:

“Is it safe to plant annuals yet?”

Answer: If you want to be 99 percent safe from late frost wait for Mother’s Day. It is usually safe to plant annuals by mid-May. Adventuresome gardeners who want to plant earlier should keep buckets and blankets ready to cover tender transplants during occasional frosty spring nights.

The biggest recent challenge to gardeners in this area:

Kansas Citians are blessed/cursed with rain in the spring. Either it rains too much and everything is flooded, or it doesn’t rain enough and new plantings need constant watering to get established.

Volunteer activities of the Johnson County (Kansas) Master Gardeners:

May is a busy month for the Master Gardeners. Weekly work sessions begin in the demonstration gardens. The flowerbeds must be cleaned up and new plants purchased and planted. May is also a busy time on the gardening hotline answering questions from the public on spring gardening topics.

About Laura: I have an extensive garden with informal, cottage-style mixed plantings of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that provide year-round interest and flowers from March through November. I specialize in roses, and am a certified Consulting Rosarian with the American Rose Society.

I am married to a retired businessman who is a ham radio operator. I have one grown daughter, two step-daughters and six grandchildren. I also have two cats whose job it is to keep the rabbits and chipmunks out of my garden! When I am not gardening I sing in a professional-level community choir called the William Baker Festival Singers. We specialize in a capella sacred choral music, folk songs and spirituals.

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