Author: joenesgarden

Lilacs, dogwood, and other May blossoms

May fills Connecticut gardens with all sorts of flowers and scents. Early morning is a wonderful time to wander through the gardens, camera in hand, to observe May blossoms.

White lilac flower buds survived the freezing temperatures that hit after they formed. Now they strut their stuff, spreading a delicate fragrance nearby. Yesterday it attracted a swallowtail butterfly and a hummingbird.

White lilac, May 11, 2016

White lilac, May 11, 2016

This low bush blueberry – or is it a huckleberry, it’s hard for even seasoned botanists to say – was here when we cleared our property nearly 20 years ago. We worked around this native shrub and it has become a feature of the front yard gardens. Pollinating flies spend most of their days visiting its May blossoms.

Blueberry or huckleberry blossoms with pollinating fly, May 11, 2016

Blueberry or huckleberry blossoms with pollinating fly, May 11, 2016

The pink dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Rubra’) is in full bloom … striking against a clear blue sky.

Cornus florida 'Rubra' aka pink dogwood against a clear blue sky, May 11, 2016.

Cornus florida ‘Rubra’ aka pink dogwood against a clear blue sky, May 11, 2016.

Scillia/Spanish Bluebells, aka Hyancinthoides hyspanica ‘Dainty Maid’ just opened, adding more colorful May blossoms to the ground level. They pick up where waning daffodils leave off.

Scillia/Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica 'Dainty Maid', May 11, 2016

Scillia/Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Dainty Maid’, May 11, 2016

One of a pair of blue containers filled with the SunSparkler sedum ‘Lime Zinger’.

SunSparkler sedum 'Lime Zinger'

SunSparkler sedum ‘Lime Zinger’

I had this sedum in one large container last summer. Rather than lose it, I planted it in the ground last fall. When it emerged and temperatures warmed enough to safely place containers back outside, I dug and divided the sedum to fill the two pots … definitely worth the effort to have the pots looking full this early at no additional cost to the budget.

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Do coffee grounds benefit gardens?

As a daily coffee drinker and long-time advocate of composting, coffee grounds generated in my kitchen go into the compost pile. But, apparently, gardeners are increasingly using coffee grounds, collected from coffee shops, as mulch.

This is not a practice I had considered until I read Linda Chalker-Scott’s peer-reviewed fact sheets on this topic. As one of The Garden Professors, Linda is a huge proponent of science-based gardening information.

Her newest fact sheet, Using Coffee Grounds in Gardens and Landscapes, provides valuable advice for home gardeners. I strongly advise you follow the link and read the entire fact sheet, but here are a few of her points:

  • fresh or composted coffee grounds can be safely used as mulch, but no deeper than a 1/2″ layer and not on seed-starting beds as the grounds tend to reduce germination.
  • to prevent the grounds from compacting and limiting moisture to the soil, they should be covered with a coarse mulch of organic material.
  • coffee grounds are not always acidic and, therefore, should not be used to alter soil pH.
  • only composted coffee grounds should be worked into the ground as a soil amendment.
  • coffee grounds should compose of no more than 20% of the volume of a compost pile.
The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott ... a must read for all gardeners.

The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott … a must read for all gardeners.

Want to read more of Chalker-Scott’s science-based advice for gardeners? Check out The Informed Gardener. It is easy reading and pares scientific research against gardening and landscaping myths.

 

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