The May Gap

North Garden gone quietAfter the tulips have gone by and before … everything else starts up in the North Garden, we cross The May Gap. It’s almost as if the garden is taking one last deep inhale before singing the high note of early summer – a note that sustains at least until … The July Gap. Gail and I annually focus at least 73% of the sum total of our garden design energy on creating and maintaining the look of peak bloom in that garden throughout the growing season but we are thwarted by late May. North Garden May GapAccording to Gail, it was my predecessor, Sheila, who coined the phrase – probably with a sigh of resignation. There must be something that would bridge it. Perhaps we could tuck in cool season annuals – if we weren’t so consumed with moving and planting perennials in all the other gardens… Perhaps there are 3 or 4 early early blooming perennials we just haven’t thought of yet – that don’t take up too much room or are otherwise handsome for the rest of the season. Do you have any suggestions?

Clematis integrifoliaWaiting for the Nectaroscordum, foxglove, amsonia, and lady's mantle

But just because the North Garden is on the quiet side doesn’t mean the rest of the property isn’t shouting out. Even though I’m here everyday to witness the transformation, I’m still amazed that -all of a sudden- it’s definitely fully late spring already – I would even call it early summer since Memorial Day is right around the corner. If you haven’t come to see the dove tree (Davidia involucrata) yet, ahem… what are you waiting for? It might not be as floriferous as last year but it’s still a beautiful beautiful thing. The empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa) are starting to scent the air with ode de cough syrup – good thing the blooms are gorgeous candelabras or I might not like them at all. And the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipfera) buds will be open any day – I’m determined to catch them this year. Here is more evidence of visit worthy vistas:

Behind the SummerhouseEnkianthus campanulatus

Red-veined enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) up closeAllium and peonies

Rock Garden wet slope redo phase 1 - divide and conquerAnd there are other May transformations around the property as well: New trees and shrubs planted, sculpture installed and gardens in the process of renewal. Rock Garden wet slope redo phase 2 - all hands for plantingEvery gardener knows there’s no lull now in the workload and not enough time in the day to accomplish everything on the list. Although we’ll switch gears next week from planting perennials to annuals, we can’t lose any speed. But if I happen to go quiet and miss a post or two now and then, you could call it The May Gap and know I’ll be gathering breath (and pictures) for a big shout.

Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice) saying wahoo!

Do you and your garden bridge The May Gap?

5 thoughts on “The May Gap

  1. A beautifully written post Kris. Right now the Geranium macrorrhizum is in bloom and the Dicentra eximia has a very long….almost all summer, bloom so you might give that a go. Also, the tiarellas and heucherellas are blooming. At least the spring ‘gap’ has freshness to it while the July gap can often look bedraggled. Great shots all!

    Thanks, Layanee! I love that Dicentra too – I’m pretty sure that’s the one in the picture of the bloomers behind the summerhouse. But doesn’t it prefer a little shade to none at all? Same thing, alas, with the tiarellas, etc… And I prefer the May gap too but then I kind of almost prefer the just-before bloom to the full bloom! (It’s a half-full/half-empty thing I think.) -kris

  2. Hi Kris, I experience May gap too. After the tulips disappear and right before the peonies bloom I am saved by columbines and iris. I do tuck ii some annual stock I love scented flowers.

    Cyd, Stock is a great idea! And smells soooo good… -kris

  3. Yes, I do have a May gap of my own, and I was thinking about it today. I just hate when the daffodils haven’t died back yet, and lay all over the ground. I try to mix in other interesting plants to bridge, but we’ve all got it. In a couple of weeks, the daffodil foliage will be gone & then everything will look fresh again.~~Dee

    Dee, You’re right. The daffodil foliage has got to go. Then, even if there was still a gap, it wouldn’t look such a mess! -kris

  4. tis the season of Iris. I love it. But I do need to keep my eyes on the road too.

    Wayne, Be careful out there! -kris

  5. Kris, Great blog as always. I am catching up on reading the last few month’s worth of entries because, like you I was fully engulfed in Maynia. :) But as for the May gap, I love some of the early blooming geraniums and there is something very fresh and awakening about Pulmonaria, even after the flowers fade. I have one in almost full sun and it looks great now, although it does get pretty bedraggled as the summer goes on…

    Brooke, I’m a number one fan of pulmonaria but never thought of it for the North Garden – it could be just the thing for the shady corners along with Layanee’s dicentra suggustion… Thanks! -kris

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