Plant your warm-weather-loving vegetables and flowers. Although the last frost date is two weeks behind us, it's not too late to add those plants to the garden. As long as you plant by this weekend - beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash, along with annuals like zinnia, cosmos, and New Guinea impatiens - there's still enough time to satisfy your goals of good eating and plenty of beauty.
Cut back ornamental grasses. With all the recent rain and warmer temperatures, clumps of larger ornamental grasses like Miscanthus and Arundo are putting out new growth, seemingly overnight. If you haven't yet cut back last year's stems, do it now. I've found hedge clippers save time and energy because you can cut many of the old stems in one fell swoop. Avoid cutting these stems too close to the tips of the new shoots or you'll give the plant a crew cut that will take some time to grow out.
Brighten up your shade garden. While fewer plants are suited for shade than sun, think of these requirements - if you're dealt them - as a chance to be more creative. Quite a number of shade perennials have unique and dramatic foliage. Take hostas, for example. Thanks to plant breeders, hostas come in a variety of leaf colors, some with fragrant flowers. Japanese painted fern has a soft look and light silver foliage. While perennials like epimedium, trillium, Jacob's ladder, bleeding heart, and creeping phlox only bloom in spring, their leaves provide interest throughout the rest of the gardening season. Although annual garden impatiens was the longtime answer for color in the shade, downy mildew is still a problem this year. Fortunately, New Guinea impatiens, tolerant of both sun and shade, is an excellent alternative.