View this email in your browser

It's May!

Around here, May means "fools plant early while the rest of us wait."  

In other words, Spring hasn't quite settled its mind about giving in to Summer, at least where I garden. We've flirted with frost the last few mornings but as far as I can tell, it's mostly on the rooftops.

By the way, I'm one of those who waits to plant until later in May, though I will tempt fate with a few geraniums, which are a little tougher than tomatoes and peppers. But nothing is as tough in colder temps as the violas and pansies. Those plants just keep putting out the flowers! Or will until it's warm enough for tomatoes and peppers.

Pictured here is one of my new obsessions, perennial violas. This one is Viola cornuta 'Northern Lights'.


Last month, I wrote about my new obsession with everything related to violets and the genus Viola. If you were waiting for me to tell you this month that it was just a passing phase, nothing to see here, move along, you'd be wrong. I'm still obsessed. No judging. I'm not the first gardener to go all in on a particular genus of plants. I'm looking at you, Hosta, Rose, Daylily, Daffodil, Boxwood, African violet, Orchid lovers, who were all so taken with your particular genus of plants that you formed actual societies so that you could all obsess together.  

I'm still looking for my people! When I google "Viola Society" I get either a bunch of musicians who are smitten with that slightly larger cousin of the violin or those people who are obsessed with African violets, which as we know aren't Viola violets, they are Saintpaulia violets. Big difference!

Should start my own plant society for my beloved genus, Viola?  Maybe someday, but not right now.  

But I would like to know more about plant societies. If you are in a plant society, tell me about it. Or if you, too, are taken with all plants Viola, and would join my society, let me know. Or if I completely missed that there already is a Viola plant society to join, do tell me!


We'll temporarily leave the world of violets to talk about a lovely new book, Tropical Plants and How to Love Them by Marianne Willburn. The subtitle is Building a Relationship with Heat-Loving Plants WHEN YOU DON'T LIVE IN THE TROPICS.  I think the subtitle should be changed to how to write books about plants and gardening that entertain as well as educate the reader.  I love how Marianne uses the concept of relationships... best friend, summer romance, long-term relationship... to talk about tropical plants for temperate gardens. If you've ever flirted with a canna, or had a banana plant make a pass at you in a garden center, and you weren't quite sure what to do, get this book!  

On the fiction side of reading, I read and enjoyed two books about people who work in book stores:  The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland and The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin. Both are enjoyable reads, one with a backstory of domestic violence and the other wrapped around World War II. I'm now looking for more books with bookshop settings. 

Back in the world of violets, I've picked up three more books about violets, two of which are reprints but that's all I could find. Hang on to your keyboards... I'll probably write about those on my blog.

(Check out my Goodreads profile for more on my reading history.)

(That is correct... I don't include affiliate links to buy the books. If you want to buy these books, please go to an independent bookstore near you to buy them or buy them online from Bookshop. On Bookshop, you can choose your favorite independent bookstore and all proceeds go to them. Don't have a favorite bookstore? Pick mine, Wild Geese Bookshop in Franklin, Indiana.)


'Tis the season to run around town looking for plants to buy and that's a lot of what I've been doing. I am fortunate to have a greenhouse nearby, Court'sYard and Greenhouse, where I buy most of the annuals and perennials for my garden, plus Soules Garden which has all kinds of unusual plants, along with oodles of daylilies and hostas.

But that doesn't stop me from buying a few plants from other places when I see them, like these perennial violas I found at the local big box store. Yes, I was there to buy groceries. Yes, these took up room in the cart meant for food. But aren't pretty flowers food for the soul? 

And now that I am aware of perennial violas, I'm starting to see them all over the place. How have I missed them all these years?  



The big writing-book news is that my book Creatures and Critters: Who's in My Garden is getting a new cover! While working on the cover for Digging and Delighted: Live Your Best Gardening Life, I decided that my books of gardening essays make a nicer series if all the covers have a similar look and feel. So, now Creatures and Critters will have a look similar to my first three books of humorous gardening essays: Potted and Pruned, Homegrown and Handpicked, and Seeded and Sodded. That should give you a big hint about what the cover of Digging and Delighted is going to look like.

(If you like the original cover of Creatures and Critters better, order it up soon because in a few weeks, I'm going to change it!)

And yes, because I self-publish, I can make these kinds of changes to my books without going through an editorial committee or any kind of justification process. I decide. I do. Sort of.

If you'd like to hear more about my book self-publishing process, please sign up for the webinar on self-publishing that I'm doing for GardenComm on June 3rd at 7:00 pm EDT.  Cost is $20 for members, $30 for non-members. Sign up is here.  

For George and others who are curious about when Digging and Delighted will be available, your patience will soon be rewarded!


While the birds are singing to one another from the tree branches, we gardeners are calling back and forth to one another:  Is it safe to plant now? Do you think that was the last frost? Is it okay to plant tomatoes now? 

Then suddenly it's the end of the month, they've sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the start of the Indy 500 race on Memorial Day weekend, and it's summer once again.  

Which brings me to this picture of a little viola growing up through the cracks of the patio. I leave it there not to remind me that I am a poor weeder (I am and need no reminders) but to remind me that conditions don't have to be perfect for a seed to germinate or for a plant to grow.  Consider that as you go about choosing spots for your new baby plants. Find a good spot. Give your new plant a little love. Watch it grow. That's better than leaving it languishing in its little black plastic nursery container all summer.

If it's a frost tender plant, just wait until you are pretty darn sure that you've had your last frost before planting it in that lovely little spot you found for it! You don't want to be singing the gardener's lament, "I should have waited!"

(This little viola doesn't care about frost, by the way. Another reason to love it and let it grow as best it can in a crack between patio bricks.)

Wrapping Up

Viola 'Purple Showers' is now blooming in my garden. Pretty little thing, isn't it? It catches my eye every time I see it.  

Gardening can be quite hectic this time of year. So much to do. It's tempting to keep doing and never sit down to admire your own gardens. It often takes someone else visiting your gardens for you to see how lovely they really are. That's the subject of a recent blog post I wrote about my new garden-admiring service. If you didn't get an email alerting you to that post, or any other blog post, it could be you haven't signed up for those emails. You can remedy that by signing up via my website, or hit reply and email me to let me know you'd like to get those blog post emails and I'll add you to the list.

Or hit reply, send me a picture of your garden to admire, with your address, and I'll send you an actual hand-written note telling you how lovely your garden is. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be one of the five lucky ones who also gets a copy of one of my books with your note. (Just in case you are one of the five lucky ones, tell me which book you'd like.)

With a shared love of gardening,


P.S.  Don't forget, every week Dee Nash and I record and publish a new episode of our podcast, The Gardenangelists. We enjoy talking about all things gardening and think you'll enjoy listening to it!

P.S.S. My books are always for sale on my website or can be ordered wherever books are sold, including independent bookstores.  

P.S.S.S. Interested in having me speak to your group? Check out info about my talks on my website. Tell me you want me to talk about Violets, Pansies, and Violas, and I might do it for free. (At least the first time I do that talk.)
Carol J Michel Website Carol J Michel Website
May Dreams Gardens Blog May Dreams Gardens Blog

Copyright © 2021 Carol J. Michel, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp