May Garden in the Pacific Northwest

May is a spectacular time of year in the Puget Sound area. Because our chilly winters leave the garden quite barren, the burst of life in spring unfolds in striking layers of color and vibrancy. By the beginning of May, the early bloomers—hellebores, camellias and forsythia—are fading, understory trees have already leafed out and the upper canopy of big leaf maples is quickly filling in.

Deciduous ferns can put on 2 to 3 feet of growth within weeks, herbaceous plants and deciduous shrubs—hydrangeas, peonies, day lilies, sedum, heuchera and hardy fuchsias—are flushing out fresh growth with vigor, and the next set of bloomers is taking the stage. In my garden, this includes rhododendrons, some varieties of hardy geranium, ajuga, clover and orange blossoms.

My Japanese and vine maples are all rapidly filling out with tender, vibrant leaves.

My doublefile viburnum, a jewel in my garden, has formed buds across its horizontal branches and some of the blooms are already starting to open. It has grown significantly over the years and although it will get bigger still, it now forms some weight in the lower garden.

Beyond the general garden maintenance the spring brings, there’s something new to look at every day, enticing me outside and making it a very special experience.

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