6 May, 15
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The May flowers have been bursting this week, just in time for Mother’s Day.

If landscape spots are at a premium, a hanging basket of geraniums or patio container of supertunias and pansies might make the perfect gift.

Though the recent days have been warm, we could still get a frost around the Berkshire hills until May 25. We recommend that containers for annuals be put together now but don’t leave them outdoors overnight until danger of spring frost has past.

Supertunias on web

Flowering trees, shrubs and perennials fill our yard with more arrivals daily. Magnolia stellata or Star Magnolia has the white blooms of soft petals that flutter in the spring breezes. It’s also a tad bit hardier in our region. Crabapples, cherries and lilacs are coming into bloom now, too.

magnolia-star on web

For sweeps of color, the creeping phlox creates a tight mound that shows up early in the season but spreads slowly.

phlox on web

For any new planting, it’s good to get a soil test for pH. Plants require a particular pH in order for the roots to effectively absorb nutrition from the soil. You can add all the right fertilizers but if the pH is wrong for the plant, it won’t benefit.
Ward’s will be offering free soil pH testing as part of our upcoming 58th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday May 16th, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Please bring in a sample for any area of your landscape where you hope to plant.

Instructions for taking a soil test sample:

  • A soil sample should be representative of the area to be tested. First, decide how many distinct areas you want tested. Soil characteristics within a sampling area should be fairly uniform. That is, physical appearance, texture, color, sunlight, slope, drainage and past fertilization history should be similar throughout the area.
  • Next, using a clean bucket and trowel, take 10 to 12 vertical slices from random spots within the area and mix them well in the bucket. Slices should be as deep as the rooting zone for your particular crop. Avoid sampling very wet or recently fertilized soils. Also, samples should not be obtained from the edge of the field or plot.
  • Scoop out approximately ONE CUP of soil and spread it on a piece of paper to dry. When the sample is dry, transfer it to a sandwich-sized re-sealable bag. Write a sample name on the outside. A sample name is whatever you wish to call it (i.e., front of lawn, veggie garden, etc.)
  • Bring your sample to Ward’s on Saturday May 16th for our Jonathan Green representative, Tony Langlois, to test the pH of your soil
  • For a more comprehensive analysis, submit your sample to the University of Massachusetts Agricultural Extension department. Here’s a link to their prices and submission guidelines. Soil Testing at UMass Amherst

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