Repeat Performance

Oh, it would be nice if this were a post about flowers that bloom twice in a season!

Sadly, it’s not.

Here is my front garden on Tuesday morning, May 6.

Here is my front garden on Tuesday morning, May 6.

And here it is on Sunday, May 11.

And here it is on Sunday, May 11.

Last year we had a similar snow on May Day. This year, Mother’s Day. Does that mean next year, Memorial Day?

Fortunately, there appears to be no long-term damage. However, this late storm serves as a reminder that average last frost dates (now officially May 10 in Colorado Springs) are not guaranteed last frost dates. A few clients chomp at the bit to get annual color and plants fresh from the greenhouse at the first opportunity to wear short sleeves. Wise is the gardener who waits.

Gee… Wonder Why We’re Waiting to Plant Annuals

May Day at tea time.

May Day at tea time.


The average last frost date in Colorado Springs is May 15th. That means we might see five years with no frost after May Day, another year with the last frost on Cinqo de Mayo, and then — whoops, look out — a frost on the last day before June.

Many “old timers” never would plant annuals outdoors until after that first weenie roast over Memorial Day weekend.

I’ve even heard tell of a Mother’s Day blizzard.

So hold on to your posies and tomatoes. Even if the frosts are over, the ground is cold and the nights are chilly. One colloquial favorite of mine: Put out tender plants when the new oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear.

Mid-Spring Frangrance

Spring enchants us with tender perfumes.

Spice up the sweetness with Viburnum carlesii.

Commonly known as Koreanspice Viburnum, this shrub is versatile and easy to care for.

Hardy to zone 4, which, in Colorado is about 7500 feet. It may also be grown in much warmer climates.

It will do well in most exposures, thriving if it gets a little break from the sun. The beauty above is planted in nearly full shade at about 6500 feet.

Once established, its water needs are moderate. It wants its roots in neutral to slightly acidic soil.

Perfect for smaller gardens, it is slow growing and compact, 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. The branches are upright, and the overall shape of the shrub is rounded. Very easily pruned to maintain size and shape. The slightly fuzzy, grayish-green leaves seem to avoid deer predation, except where visits are frequent or the season is lean on browse.

Of course, the main attraction in mid-Spring are its highly fragrant and long-lasting flowers. The flower clusters are up to three inches across. Rosy pink buds open to the palest blush and mature to nearly pure white. The scent travels on both warm and cool breezes. It is complex and hints at cloves.

These wonderful flowers form red berries which mature to black. Fall color is usually reddish-orange.

Plant one. Plant a mass. Whatever you do, place Viburnun carlesii where its intense perfume can be thoroughly enjoyed.

Sage and Savvy, Number One

What’s a gardening website without tips, tid-bits, and to-do lists?

Every now and then, at least, don’t you think?

Some of my favorite tools for Spring clean-up. Especially the little rake. It can get into the crunchiest of places.

Spring clean-up will soon be wrapping up in these parts, but just in case you’re running a little behind, like I am, here’s a couple of tips:

  • Use hedge shears to cut back dead stems and grasses. I find cutting is easier on the plants than pulling, except with daylilies and iris.
  • Cut down a whole bed at once (unless it’s too windy), and then rake it off.
  • Toss everything directly into a large trash can or open tarp that drags along as you progress through a bed.
  • Compost at home, or take winter’s dregs to a place like our beloved Rocky Top for recycling.

Gotta love a hori-hori.

Now is a great time to:

  • Blade out those cool season weeds, like dandelions.
  • Get soil activator and fertilizer on what’s left of your lawn.
  • Scatter, scratch, and water in compost or organic fertilizer around your shrubs, grasses, and perennials.
  • Turn on your irrigation system or start dragging hoses.
  • Top off your mulch.
  • Cut new edges along beds and walkways.
  • Pinch back those geraniums you overwintered.
  • Resume the stretching you ignored all winter long.
  • Stock up on sunscreen.

Oh, and if you have early season tulips of daffodils that have finished blooming, snap off the seed pod forming at the tip of the stem. Bulbs tire more easily if they bear seeds.

Always remember to step back from time to time and admire your work.

Oh! Oh! And one more thing: Schedule a massage.