A single rhododendron bloom shows its colours in Port Clements on Saturday, May 13. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

A single rhododendron bloom shows its colours in Port Clements on Saturday, May 13. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Deer Gardener: May gives islanders growers a real boost in morels

“Everything is a bit behind times. By the time you read this, it will be all better!”

By Elaine Nyeholt

May is THE best month. Gardens come fully to life and fresh growth is so uplifting. I did notice a few plants that did not do well through the winter — if they don’t look good now, they are done. Set them free! I am learning to be merciless in some cases.

The newest rhodos in town were moved to the museum as an exhibit I guess. They came from the office that was MacMillan Bloedel etc., back in the beginning of logging in Juskatla. I am trying to think who likely planted them, hmm. I bet Dale would know. So, these shrubs (trees almost) need some lower limbs removed, and a lot of water — they are just under the hill so that should take care of itself.

They also need de-budding of some centre buds to encourage branching out, and a LOT of peat moss mulch for the feeler roots to move into. These are definitely retired rhodos. One has blossoms on it, the rest not so much. I am delighted to see them in the museum grounds in any case, and am looking forward to them returning, hopefully, to their former glory. They were always lovely.

If anyone has been out to the rhododendrons at the old Evans farm recently, I would be curious to know how those two huge plants are doing. One is white and blooms at a considerably different time from the mauve one. They are the ‘parent’ plants to many offspring all over these islands. My friend Fran said she was there a couple of years ago, but it could be longer — time goes by so fast for me.

Lioudmilla’s Gardens has a nice selection of azalea and rhodo plants for our buying pleasure. The yellow, smaller bush ones that turn orange were just blooming last week, and are very showy if you are looking for a colourful, easy-to-grow shrub. They just need peat moss and moisture. Doug’s hanging baskets were ready for Mother’s Day. There was still a nice selection of bedding plants when I was there last week… less when I left.

I have not made it into the mossy woods to look for those precious Calypso Orchids yet this year. They must be blooming by now, because the morel mushrooms are out and abundant.

While waiting last week in the Lab Line-up (“What are you in for?”), a friend told me that the Salmon Berry were beginning to fruit at this time last year.

Everything is a bit behind times. By the time you read this, it will be all better!

Peas should be in by now, and I am seriously thinking that beans can go in anytime, but do not plant the whole packet the first planting. Wait about 10 days and plant the other half… you will be glad you did. It extends the season, and gives us a buffer in case the first ones don’t grow well because of cold nights. It was 8 F in the morning yesterday, so who knows what the ‘low’ was overnight. The wind is still cold.

Pinterest showed me that if you cut a clear pop bottle in half and make a hole in the bottom half, you have two small cloches to cover your emerging bean sprouts. Put some slug bait in the container in case some slightly brighter slug makes in there. Sounds like a great plan!

I firmly believe it is better to wait and pop those seeds in so they hit the soil and burst forth eagerly to mature and fruit. When a plant suffers setbacks because of insects, cold, or creatures (deer, slugs. or sow bugs) its season does not progress as well as it could.

Enjoy the month… I am so thankful for people who were available to turn over my soil for me this year!

Deer Gardener