• Buy angel’s trumpet Get one in a 2-gallon or larger container, and transplant it into a 20-inch glazed pot. Water and fertilize generously, and pendulous, 8- to 15-inch-long, trumpet-shaped blooms will cover the plant in two to three months. Fragrant, golden yellow Brugmansia cubensis ‘Charles Grimaldi’ is among the best.
• Get garden goods Find more than 200 vendors of plants and garden-related items at Spokane’s Garden Expo 2009 (May 9; free; Spokane Community College, Lair Student Center, Bldg. 6, 1810 N. Greene St.; tieg.org or 509/535-8434).
• Annuals When the danger of frost is past, plant seeds or seedlings of warm-season annual flowers. This year, experiment with something offbeat: Instead of dwarf French marigolds, try foot-tall signet marigolds, which bear a profusion of gold, lemon yellow, or tangerine flowers; instead of petunias, grow smaller-flowered calibrachoas; instead of Sensation cosmos, try ‘Pied Piper Red’ or Sea Shells Mix, with rolled up petals; instead of zonal geraniums, plant baskets full of ivy geraniums.
• Herbs In summer beds, plant seedlings of annual kinds, including basil, cilantro, and parsley. Plant perennials like chives, oregano, rosemary, and thyme in permanent beds; put mint in containers to keep it under control.
• Fall-blooming perennials Plant asters, Helenium, Japanese anemones, and mums now for spectacular autumn flowers. Also look for the new Heliopsis ‘Tuscan Sun’, whose 12- to 20-inch height makes it the most compact false sunflower ever.
• Summer bulbs Go beyond callas, dahlias, gladiolus, and lily-of-the-Nile with potted summer hyacinths (Galtonia candicans) and hardy Chinese ground orchids (Bletilla striata).
• Vegetables The eight basic warm-season vegetables should go in now: beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. You can buy seedlings, but if you start from seed, you can get one packet of each veggie listed for about $25 ― and be swimming in produce by summer’s end.
• Japanese maples Their emerging leaves are fresh, full, and (depending on the variety) infused with chartreuse, gold, pink, red, or variegation ― nearly as engaging as their fall colors.
• Add color to shaded spots If you lack light, grow hybrid fuchsias in garden beds or containers; just pinch them back as they grow to make them bushy. Also try astilbes, begonias, coleus, and impatiens.
• Conserve water There are several ways to save water this summer. Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch such as bark chips over the root zones of permanent plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. When you irrigate, water slowly and deeply in the early morning or evening when the air is cool and calm. Don't overtrim grass ― mow at 2 to 3 inches for bluegrass, 2 1/2 to 3 inches for tall fescue ― and consider cutting back irrigation to 1 inch of water every two weeks; under this regime, lawns will turn the color of straw but will bounce back after temperatures cool in fall.
• Detail the garden Once plants are in the ground, add adornments like birdbaths, tea lights, and weather vanes to give your garden a finished look. A good source is House & Garden Accents ( www.houseandgardenaccents.com or 866/634-9022).
• Feed plants Apply a balanced lawn fertilizer according to package directions early this month. Dig controlled-release or organic fertilizer into the backfill of everything else you plant. Water well, and you’ll see results within days.
• Shear hedges To keep the base from becoming light-starved and sparse, clip a hedge so that its bottom is wider than
Next: Grow a tower of flowers