May 18-24: In the garden, it's time…

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It’s time to prune the forsythia.

Prune forsythia. If these yellow behemoths are taking over your property, now is a good time to prune them into a more reasonable size. They’ll take a while to start forming next year’s flowers, so anything drastic you do now will not harm future blooms. Hold off on the azaleas, though, since you want to enjoy every one of their blooms before shaping them into a size more in scale with your yard.

Send the indoor babies to Plant Camp. Remember when you knew what your windowsills looked like? Now’s your chance to relive that time; dust, scrub, scrape and repaint to your heart’s content while the houseplants move outside to breathe, stretch and bask in the sun. You can almost hear them sigh the first time they encounter actual rainfall! Take them out a few at a time, into a shady well-protected space until they acclimate. Also check: Do they need to be repotted? Can you prune and shape, and clean out the dead stuff to encourage new growth? Those small pots and containers get lost in the landscape, so keep them in a high-profile place where they get daily attention. At our house that means the front steps, where they are very happy, but everyone else grouses as the summer progresses and the walkway keeps getting more narrow.

Try a new tool.  How about a battery-operated leaf blower? Nothing is more jarring than the cacophony of early morning chainsaw wannabes in the next yard, so why be that neighbor? The cordless varieties are strong enough for most jobs, make half the noise, and hold a charge long enough to do a couple hours work. Buy a second battery to keep on charge and you’re set. Next step, the electric chainsaw. It’s like pruning your shrubs with a Tesla!

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).