ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — May has officially arrived!

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press My pink rhododendron in bloom.

Happy Mother’s Day! With any luck, you’ll get spoiled a lot today. You’ve earned it, so sit back and relax.

There will be plenty of work waiting for you in the yard. Now that we have (finally) reached our average last frost date, we can go ahead and plant stuff. Be sure to continue watching those nightly forecast lows for the rest of the month, though. You never know when Mother Nature will decide to sneak in one last frosty night.

Hopefully, the hummingbirds are showing up in your yard. My first ones arrived on April 19. Looking at them, it’s hard to believe that these are the smallest migrating birds in North America. How they do it is simply amazing.

Another flying creature showed up about the same time. This one wasn’t nearly so welcome as it was a yellow jacket wasp. I immediately swatted him, but he’ll have plenty of buddies arriving to “bug” us. Watch out for nests.

Be sure to feed those acid-loving plants now. This included rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas. If you skip this step, it will be especially noticeable on those blue hydrangeas. Without the acid fertilizer, they will bloom a sickly pink. I forgot one year and they let me know it … big time.

It seems like we went from “snow” to “grow” awfully fast this year. With our above-average warm days, the lawns will be needing water. Get those sprinklers going.

Speaking of water, did you know that you can have much better luck attracting songbirds to your yard with water than with feeders? Give it a try if you haven’t already. A birdbath works wonders. It only needs to be a few inches deep and a foot or so across. They will not only stop for a drink, but a lot of them have a great time taking a bath.

While we’re on the subject of birds, be sure to clean out those backyard birdhouses. They’ll soon be looking for a place to set up housekeeping and raise a family.

Once your favorite spring bulbs have finished blooming, dig in some balanced fertilizer around them. That will help to ensure a nice display again next year. Don’t cut the leaves down until they’ve starting turning brown.

Daffodils can be a problem, as they do not like sprinkler systems. It keeps them too wet when they’re dormant and they often rot. If you have favorites that you don’t want to lose, just dig them up when their leaves have turned brown and store on a shelf until fall. Then replant.

Be sure to attend the River City Gardeners’ annual plant sale. This year it will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18. The location is the same, 416 E. Third Ave., Post Falls.

Hey, I think that time spent out in the garden is good. Like I always say, it keeps me out of the bars!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in the Press every other Sunday from early March to late October.

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