The May Garden Invigorates Your Soul

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps” — A. Bronson Alcott

The May garden is fresh and green. It’s one of the best times of the year here in Northeast Ohio.

Our formal garden started out as a vegetable garden. I grew herbs, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, beans, cucumbers.  

Then came the rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, and deer. Every year was another heart break. As our deer population grew, and my perennials began to vanish, I started moving things into the garden. So, now the garden is mostly perennials and shrubs.

Here is a view of what’s blooming today.

Korean Lilac Is a May Garden Standout

The Korean lilac looks bejeweled with the raindrops clinging to it.

Korean lilac with small raindrops looks fresh in bloom

Lilacs are fairly easy to grow and to propagate. I have dug up offshoots from the two original lilac bushes in our yards and created a hedge from them. They grow and fill in quickly.

Although deer will eat them, lilacs don’t seem to be a favorite once they are established.


Rhubarb leaves show tiny slug holes
The rhubarb is growing like a weed. Soon, we’ll have rhubarb crisp with soft vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb is a perennial that looks lush in May. You can harvest the stalks when the plants are a year old, though I’ve read that you should leave about a third of the plant untouched so that the plant has enough energy to grow robustly.

Our rhubarb tends to be a favorite for the slugs, so I’ll put some pans of beer in the garden in the evening and empty them the next day when they are full of the slimly critters.


Penstemon leaves start out a burgundy color and turn green as they age
Penstemon Digitalis Husker Red. The leaves are beautiful. Later, tiny bell-shaped flowers will bloom on tall stalks.

Penstemon are short-lived perennials in our garden. Luckily, they self-sow prodigiously, so with little effort you can always have some to enjoy. ‘Husker Red’ has small white flowers on tall stalks, but it’s the foliage that really catches the eye.


Chive blossoms shoot up among blueberry branches
Chives pop through the branches of a blueberry bush. Soon, those chive blossoms will burst into showy pom poms.

Chives are at their peak in the May garden. They grow into thick clumps and seed like crazy, so I try to cut the dead flowers as soon as possible. Otherwise, they would have no problem taking over all of the garden beds.

Hosta leaves catch raindrops
Hosta “Francis Williams” begins unfurling its golden-rimmed leaves.


My hosta plants were one of the first transplants inside the garden fence because they are deer favorites.

Here they prosper in the rich soil. Although they won’t bloom until late June and July, their leaves provide beautiful texture and color in the May garden.

Building Up the May Garden

Last year, some particularly resourceful deer jumped the fence and ate all of my daylilies in one night. I felt doomed. My husband and I decided to extend the fence with longer poles drilled onto the existing posts. I then stapled netting to the poles, effectively creating an 8 foot barrier. So far, so good.

garden enclosed by wooden fence and deer netting to eight feet
Poles and netting extend the barrier to 8 feet tall, without the look of a fortress. The fence is stained in “Oxford Brown.”

What is growing in your neck of the woods?

© 2017, 2021 See Legalese page for permissions.

Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!