Wednesday, December 06, 2023
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ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — Busy, busy, busy

| May 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Planting season has arrived … in earnest. As if we don’t already have enough to do, let’s not forget to fertilize. Many types of perennials can use a good boost to get them off and running. Roses, irises and lilies will appreciate some fertilizer with a low first number and high middle number. Your clematis vines could use some too.

If it doesn’t rain right away, be sure to water that fertilizer in so that it gets a good start on feeding your plants.

While you’re at it, you might dig some fertilizer in around the base of your raspberry canes. They aren’t particular about what kind and will fare just fine with nothing but plain lawn fertilizer. Just be sure it’s not the “weed and feed” kind as that has stuff in it to also kill anything else, not just grass.

Speaking of weeds, I hope you’ve either sprayed or dug those dandelions. They’ve had a great start this year. Some lawns looked more yellow than green. If nothing else, at least pull the flowers or seed heads off and destroy them. Each plant can produce more seeds than you can count.

According to the birding books, we are supposed to have three types of hummingbirds in this area. They are the calliope, the rufous and the black-chinned. I see lots of calliopes in my yard, an occasional rufous but very rarely a black-chinned.

The calliope types are the smallest birds in North America at 3 inches long and weighing only 1/10 of an ounce. These little guys annually fly from as far north as Canada to southern Mexico. Actually they do it twice annually, in both spring and fall. Amazing.

When choosing plants for a pot, remember the cardinal rule: get a thriller, a filler and a spiller. This just means a tall plant, a shorter/bushier one and one that spills over the edge. These will give balance to your planter and be pleasing to the eye.

Another thing to remember is color. Be sure they don’t clash and look good together. If you want these plants to show up at a distance, use light colors. Dark ones will kind of disappear when not viewed up close.

If leaf hoppers are a problem, your best bet is to get ahead of them. Right away, before they’ve had a chance to move in, dig some systemic bug killer around the trunk of the tree or vine. This will get drawn up into the leaves and will kill other kinds of leaf chewers too.

I’ve seen several big tiger slugs already. When it comes to dispatching them, I’m not squeamish … scissors, pruners, even a handy rock, will send them to Never-Never Land.

I saw this yard sign recently. “Frog Parking Only — All Others Will Be Toad.”

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently an active member of the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column has appeared in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October for the past 12 years.

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