May 2022

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Dear reader,

By the time you read this newsletter, it will be May. I'm a little behind, because--well, since I'm writing to fellow gardeners, I don't think I need to explain how the month of April was an extremely busy one. I'll just say Happy May!

Not that we get much of a reprieve this month, but things do seem to be not nearly as urgent as April with all of its unpredictable weather and seedling care. We should all be well on our way past any chance of frost, which gives great peace of mind.

I've been thinking a lot about native plants lately. In my consulting business, I do try to persuade my clients to plant more natives, or nativars (more about nativars here I also consider it a win when they say, "I think I want to pull out this nandina, burning bush, or English ivy." Yes! I always respond enthusiastically. I've made plenty of gardening mistakes concerning the wrong plant in the wrong place, so I'm not exempt here. I still have a large pot of Hedera helix 'Arborescens' in my garden. I clip the berries off before they can be spread by birds and other wildlife. My philosophy is to add more natives for our native birds and pollinators, and to replaces invasive as you can. Ripping out an entire landscape is just not feasible for most of us, but we can always take that first step and keep trying to do better.

But remember, even native plants can be aggressive spreaders. I'm dealing with some overzealous, although knock-out gorgeous, Physostegia virginiana. The common name is obedient plant, but I assure you it is not always that! Just because a plant is native doesn't mean it's not aggressive. So, planter beware.

NC State Extension's Plant These Instead! website suggests substitutes for landscape plants that are proving invasive or troublesome at

What plants have you found invasive or difficult to contain? How do you deal with them? What's your biggest planting regret?

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See you in the garden,

I’m Reading

thin places: a natural history of healing and home by Kerri ní Dochartaigh is part memoir, part history, part nature writing, and completely mesmerizing. The author recounts growing up in a very divided Ireland in the early 1980s and leaving the first chance she got as a young adult. How do places affect our lives? Can early landscapes reside inside us even after we leave? What connects people and places and what happens when those connections are severed? These are all questions the author addresses. These are also questions I have struggled with after leaving my childhood home almost 40 years ago. Dochartaigh asks: "How deeply can a person feel the fault lines of their home running through their own veins?" Maybe you, too, have pondered this thought-provoking question. If so, this book is for you.

I’m Doing

Working--A Lot! I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has reached out to me as a potential client. It's difficult to say no to folks who need help caring for their gardens, but my schedule is completely booked up through summer--at least. I also want to thank all of my current clients who entrust their beautifully diverse gardens to my care. I am learning more and more with each work session. A gardener's curiosity is never sated. There's always more to learn. And I am!

Monthly Maintenance Calendar

  • Plant all summer bulbs now that the danger of frost is over.
  • Ditto for annuals including impatiens, begonias, gomphrena, zinnia, tender salvias, marigolds.
  • Add a layer of compost (you did it! You made compost!) and mulch to help keep beds moist and weed free.
  • Give new plants their best start by fertilizing with a microbe and mycorrhiza-enhanced fertilizer like Espoma Organic Bio-Tone when planting.
  • Take softwood cuttings of some perennials and annuals to add to the flower border later: salvias, cuphea, catmint, many others.
  • Divide hostas, siberian iris (after blooming), and many more perennials. More info on division here:
  • Practice the "Chelsea Chop" on late-blooming perennials.
  • Prune and fertilize azaleas and bridal wreath spirea after blooming. Fertilize camellias.
  • Don’t forget to water new plants until they are established, and after that during dry spells.
  • If you haven't already, it's time to move houseplants outside. Remember to protect them from intense sun, wind, and rain until they are acclimated to their summer home.
  • After prolific spring planting, take nursery containers to your local Lowe's Home Improvement for recycling. Call ahead first to be sure your store participates. Other reuse/recycle options are garden centers and gardens.
  • Share your plants! Host a neighborhood plant swap. Gardening friends are the best friends.
  • Keep ahead of weed problems by weeding a little bit often. It doesn't take long for an area to be covered.
  • Hedges can be pruned, but please keep the look natural--no meatballs or squares. Unless you have a formal and clipped garden--squares it is.
  • Prune climbing roses after the first heavy bloom.
  • For a more comprehensive list, check out

I’m Recommending

This article by Margaret Roach for The New York Times: Where to Find Comfort in a World Full of Invasive Headlines
"Nature asks that we acknowledge that nothing lasts — we are each as ephemeral as the trilliums pushing up from the ground right now, or as the seasons are. My most treasured books also teach this doctrine, urging the reader to mark not just obvious moments, like full bloom or peak harvest, but also the passings — each an object lesson in the futility of asserting too tight a grasp." Margaret Roach


Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout May, my social media posts will focus on gardening and therapeutic horticulture, and their many health benefits including decreasing stress, reducing symptoms of depression, improving mood, and increasing focus. While it's not a cure-all on its own, gardening can be used with other forms of treatment like therapy and medication to create improved health. It’s time we create space for open conversations about mental health. No one should suffer in silence. Life can be rough. I believe gardening can smooth out the edges. Together let’s work to stop the stigma! Follow Six Seasons Garden Consulting on Facebook and Instagram and please feel free to share my posts with anyone who might need to hear a hopeful message. Gardening is good for the mind, body, and spirit!

*Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before starting any new exercise or health program.

Until Next Month...

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~Mary Oliver

NC native Iris cristata in my garden

Garden Oops! Saffron Crocus

Early Thanksgiving morning, I opened the pantry to get out everything to make stuffing. As I pushed aside cans to find the packages of bread crumbs, I came upon these lovely lavender flowers in the back and thought: What the heck is this? Then, I remembered: Saffron crocus. Oops. A couple of months ago, I bought a wide variety of …
Garden Oops! Saffron Crocus

Why Six Seasons?

Six seasons in my piedmont North Carolina Garden
Seasons, cycles, and time have always fascinated me. I enjoy learning how other cultures have experienced these phenomena in diverse ways. In the U.S., we have the four-season astronomical model that’s based on the equinoxes and solstices. Some countries use a meteorological definition for seasons—four seasons each containing three complete, undivided months. Some cultures have six seasons. Some have only …
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