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Let’s (Really) Get Gardening in May, Part 2

In honor of the many hummingbirds that arrive here. A hummingbird cross stitch project in progress.

(Publisher’s note: Part one of this column published on Friday.)

By Jennifer Fairfield, owner Garden Mill

Trees and Shrubs:
Now is a good time to plant new trees and shrubs, while it’s still pretty cool and we’re getting regular rain. The most important thing you can do for your trees and shrubs is to keep them well-watered when mother nature isn’t, especially for the first couple of years after they are planted, while they get their roots established.

Once your early-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia and quince, have dropped their blossoms, you can prune them back for better growth in the future.

Letting them go without regular pruning will cause them to have leaves and flowers on the ends of long, mostly leafless branches. An annual pruning will keep them looking full and give you more blossoms.
Speaking of pruning, May has been designated as Oak Wilt Awareness Month in Michigan, and one of the most important things to know about it is that you should not prune Oak trees between April 15 and July 15.

If you have oaks on your property, and you’re not familiar with Oak Wilt, it’s something you will want to learn about, because of the danger it poses to oak trees. Michigan State University’s Extension Service has published <a href=”;id=9dbf6c3981&amp;e=1f6363dd21″>information</a> on the causes of the disease, as well as tips on how to help prevent its spread.

Mulch is the second most important thing you can do for your trees and shrubs (second only to watering), because it helps to keep the soil around the roots moist and helps to maintain a more consistent soil temperature. Don’t mulch too soon though, as that will keep the soil cooler, which can slow down growth. When you are mulching trees, avoid creating mulch “volcanoes” (piling mulch up around the trunk), which can slowly kill your trees. Click <a href=”;id=0b3ef85b54&amp;e=1f6363dd21″>here&nbsp;</a>for good tips on mulching from the MSU Extension.

If you haven’t gotten out your hummingbird and oriole feeders yet, don’t delay any longer. They’re here, and they’re hungry from their long trip north.

Keep your seed feeders full at this time as well. Our birds are busy building nests, laying eggs, and raising baby birds – all hard work that requires lots of nutrition. Yes, there are plenty of insects out there now, but providing easy access to food will get them to stick around your yard, which means lots of entertainment for you. Just be sure to keep your feeders clean. Cleaning them regularly with a 10-percent bleach solution helps to reduce the chances of disease among the birds you are attracting to your yard.

It’s also time to put out bird baths, if you haven’t already, and fill them up. Again, keep them cleaned out to prevent disease.

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