May was a good month for gardening events in San Antonio.  On May 18 the Botanical Garden had guided tours to promote cultivation of Texas native plants.  The tours were advertised in a recent SAWS newsletter included in their monthly billing.  Major renovations have been underway and a trip to the Garden is well worthwhile.  Some of the new areas are family-friendly and include activities for kids.  All types of plants are grown at the Garden, even those we would not want in a home garden.  For example a healthy clump of poison ivy was pointed out by the tour guide with the warning “Leaves of three, leave it be.” 

Can you bring to your mind the sound of the New Year’s Eve ratchet-like noisemaker? You hold the handle and spin it around to make an annoying sound. That is one of the first new sounds I heard after moving to San Antonio. I also heard a long, loud whistle; a sound like static on a radio; and the sound of crumbling aluminum foil or breaking glass. I found out that these often-earsplitting sounds and more emanated from the same source, a grackle.

Nurseries and garden centers are starting to get supplies of flowering annuals.  Take advantage of early sales, but wait until at least mid-March to plant them to avoid a possible late freeze.  Warm weather bulbs such as caladiums should not be planted until early April as the soil warms.  They can rot if the soil is too cool and moist.

There are different theories about how long winter hangs around.  Some say we can have a freeze anytime up to Easter, which this year is April 1.  Others say that the danger of a killing frost is past once the mesquite tree puts on new leaves.  For King William area gardeners, one to watch is in the side garden at 735 E. Guenther St.  Nothing is as unpredictable as the weather.  Take note and plant accordingly. 

Spring is just around the corner, and Valentine’s Day is a good time to get started on this year’s garden.  Fertilize lawns, shrubs and flowerbeds if has been three or more months since the last time.  Use an organic fertilizer.  It will not burn plants, so you can wait a while to water it in and hopefully spring rains will do the job.  SAWS rates went up January 1, so every little bit helps.  Also, mulch around shrubs and in flowerbeds to a depth of 3 to 5 inches.  This will keep roots cool and preserve soil moisture as it gets warmer.