Spring Garden Smarts

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lawngrass: The zoysia in the front garden is thick and lovely, while the mow-what-grows green patch out back is covered in weeds. We’re mowing both this week. If the grass hasn’t greened up yet, mow it low to knock off the flowering heads of the winter weeds. If the green up is coming along, leave the lawn to finish its transition without interruption. If the grass has greened up, get those weeds under control by spot spraying the worst clumps. Remember: the best way to control weeds in the lawn is to grow healthier grass.


Flowers: My favorite flower is whatever’s in bloom today and I’ll be cutting to fill my largest vase today. The tulips are almost done, but different daffodils will keep opening every day. The first roses are open – ‘Peggy Martin’, ‘Clothilde Soupert’ and ‘Angelique’ – and most of the others are in bud. Purple oxalis, perennial gerberas and wild violets are joined today by red buckeye, native azaleas, the last camellia and cascades of bridal wreath spirea. It’s a riot I could attend everyday. I have 3 different butterfly bushes to plant but can’t decide where to put them. I want to group them with a miniature bbush already doing very well, but I’m being overcautious! One is a memorial to a dear friend who passed away. He bought it before he died and his dear love asked me to grow it on in his memory. It’s doing well, but I’ll be a nervous wreck until it is safely planted and growing well.


Shrubs: Just one thing to do for these plants – keep pruning in a timely manner. Evergreens need shaping to stimulate the season’s new growth. I have tree forms that need to be directed upward and a cleyera with way more growth on one side than the other. Flowering shrubs bloom along in their time, from camellia and quince through azaleas. I’m on pace with them now, but the aforementioned spireas will be a bugger. I didn’t get to them last year, they’re too big and a rogue privet has taken over the center of one of these huge shrubs. It’ll be a battle, but I’ll win.


Vegetables: My vegetables grow in raised beds, containers and true garden rows. This week we’re turning the garden rows for bush beans and starting limas in the raised beds. It’s a bit early for the limas, but I’m willing to take a chance because the issue is cold soil. The raised beds warm up faster than the garden rows, which is another reason to grow in them. I harvested the few kohlrabi that made it and their crunch was excellent.  The strawberries have fruit on them, the spinach is delicious and I’m clipping mesclun and leaf lettuce every night. It’s not hard to grow vegetables, and the rewards are so much tastier than anything you can buy. I’m thinking of doing an onion taste test – with green onion, multiplying onion, shallots and red onion sets, there must be a difference, but except for shallot greens, I’ll confess they taste a lot alike to me!

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