It’s almost Memorial Day and time to let the garden parties begin.
Memorial Day weekend marks the date when it’s safe to plant outside any annual flowers and vegetables that prefer warmer temperatures. Everything from tomatoes and basil to petunias that have been started in greenhouses can head into the ground after a few days of hardening off. In Rhode Island, the last frost is around May 15, and by the end of the month, the temperature at night hovers around 50 degrees making it warm enough for plants to thrive.
This Memorial Day weekend also marks the 63rd year of the Point Association Plant Sale. Featuring a mixture of annuals and perennials, the sale is on Saturday, May 27 from 8 to noon in the St John’s church parking lot, 57 Washington Street. Plants available at the sale include a sizable number from local nurseries as well as donations from local gardeners’ private collections, the Blue Garden, and the Preservation Society. Cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted and local gardeners will be on-site to offer design tips and plant advice.
In other gardening news, it was sad to say goodbye to Chaves garden center at the end of the 2022 growing season but as one door closes on Aquidneck Island another one opens. The Maher Garden Center is back as part of the Maher Center after a hiatus. Maher Garden Center, 910 Aquidneck Ave. is chock a block full of shrubs, flowing plants, veggies, annuals, and perennials, and a bountiful assortment of ready mixed hanging baskets ready to swing on porches island-wide. Stock is replenished weekly and constantly changing. All sales benefits programs at the Maher Center make an even better reason to splurge on something colorful.
Beyond Aquidneck Island, on June 24 and 25, the URI Master Gardener Program will host Gardening with The Masters, a statewide event featuring 18 gardens open for touring. These gardens are a mixture of public and private spaces lovingly cared for by Master Garden volunteers. Two of the private gardens are in Newport on the Point. The Good Gardens at the Norman Bird Sanctuary is featured as a public garden as is Mount Hope Farm in Bristol. In addition, ticket holders to the Tour are invited to Block Island Bonus Days on June 17 and 18 to tour a local garden. Tickets are $30 for the weekend. For more details visit https://web.uri.edu/mastergardener/tour/
In July, The Secret Garden Tours will return to the Point neighborhood of Newport. This self-guided walking tour lets ticket holders enter the gates to see what remarkable effort residents put into their urban gardens. From water features to rare plant specimens, the Secret Garden tour will inspire and casual nature lovers and garden nerds alike. Tours are from Friday, July 7 through Sunday July 9 from 10 to 4. Tickets are https://www.secretgardentours.org/calendar.htm
And if you’re wondering why so many of Aquidneck Island’s hydrangeas seem to be covered in sticks and lacking flower buds it’s due to a combination of a mild winter and then a harsh frost late in March. All the old growth that produces flower buds was killed. Many hydrangeas have both old growth and new growth. The green coming from the bottom of the plants is new growth. Unfortunately this summer of 2023 most hydrangeas will be green and flowerless. If you have questions about your hydrangeas or anything garden related, the URI Gardening and Environmental Hotline has answers. This free, science-based service is a lifesaver when aphids attack. Contact the volunteers by phone at 401-874-4836 or email@example.com and feel free to include photos.