gardenphyllisophy1By Phyllis Galowitz

I hear Alan’s voice in my head as I drive along Route 28, “Keep your eyes on the road!” But it’s so tempting to look all around at the blossoming trees and bushes, the emerging leaves against the emerald green, newly mowed lawns and the glorious background of the mountains, clothed in shades of green, interspersed with pink. Some of the trees are fully clothed in their summer garb, while the river birches in my garden are just beginning to bud. They’re the last to shed their leaves in the fall and the last to dress for spring.

Shadbush, quince, crabapple, lilac, flowering plum and pear are at their peak, while forsythia, daffodils, dandelions and coltsfoot are fading. I see that some gardens have gorgeous tulips that I never can grow to full bloom before the deer demolish them.

This morning I found the birdfeeders on the ground, seeds gone, reminding me that the bears are out and I’d better put the feeders away for the season. I’m sorry; I so enjoy watching them and the chipmunks and red squirrels. They’ll find plenty to eat without my feeders, but I do love watching them. What I can still watch is the birds nesting and how they care for their young. In a couple of weeks, that will all be finished too. Have you seen the hummingbirds?

It was tempting to plant, on those few warm, sunny days in early May, and even though I knew there’d still be frosts I did plant radishes, peas, nasturtiums and lettuce. I hope they’ll survive. May in Andes is risky. It can be warm and sunny. It can be cold and it can even snow. We can have pouring rain that washes away the newly planted seeds and washes away the topsoil. I could never be a farmer. It’s just too stressful! Last year, I woke up one morning to find that the beautiful lettuce crop, almost ready to pick for my salad, had been sheared right down to the ground. Was it those adorable chipmunks? How could I be mad at them? I planted more and they did survive. Someone told me that I should plant some for me and some for the rabbits and chipmunks and all those others who like what I plant. Maybe they should be planted alongside plants that they don’t like the smell of such as marigolds, onions or garlic.

Insects can be both good and bad for the garden. To attract the beneficial ones select plants that they prefer, like those of the parsley, carrot, aster, sunflower or daisy family, which are ornamental as well.

This is a good time to put stakes in the ground to support the stems that will bend and break in wind or heavy rain. You can buy one-inch wooden bean posts, sold in bundles in home and garden shops, to support dahlias and tall lilies. I use fallen branches that blend with their surroundings and tie the plants to the supports with soft string. For heavier plants, like tomatoes, stiff iron rods, used to re-enforce concrete, will hold up well and as they rust, blend well with the plants. They can be purchased in home or hardware stores. Be sure to pound them far enough into the ground so that they don’t fall over, bringing the plants down with them.

Remember to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing to guard against bothersome insects and carry water with you as you work in the garden. Enjoy every minute of this wonderful season in Andes! ~