Monday, March 20, 2023

MY GARDEN PATH: Yes, we 'May' say goodbye to winter!

by ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press
| May 9, 2021 1:10 AM

At long last, spring has arrived! If you're still in doubt, just go for a little ride around town. You will see trees and shrubs leafing out everywhere you look. And if that's not enough, how about all those flowering trees and shrubs? So pretty.

One thing to remember about the lilacs. They're starting to bloom now. Once they finish doing that, we have exactly one month to do any pruning or trimming. If we do it later, we will be cutting off the buds for next year's flowers. Sure don't want to do that.

This is Mother's Day. If you didn't buy her a bouquet of flowers, how about something even better. Build her an outdoor bouquet … one to last all summer. She'll be tickled pink, I'm sure.

To do this, you just need a few items: a nice big pot. Use one at least a foot across. Bigger is even better. Make sure it has drainage holes and then fill it about 3/4 of the way up with good potting soil.

Stir in some blooming fertilizer pellets. The middle number on the container is for flowers, so make sure that one is the highest. You'll need to visit the nursery if you haven't already done so.

Keep in mind the old adage when choosing the plants. You'll need a “thriller,” a “filler” and a “spiller.” This is just a way to balance out your creation so it won't be lopsided.

The thriller, is a tall plant, the filler is one that spreads and the spiller is one that hangs over the edges. Be sure all those that you choose want the same conditions. In other words, all that like to grow in sun, or all that like shade, etc. You don't want to plant a cactus with a fern!

Choose colors that compliment each other. Try to avoid things that clash like orange and hot pink, for instance. Two or three colors is usually plenty.

Now, go to planting. Do the thriller first. It usually works best in the back of the pot. Then, put in the filler in the center and the spiller in the front. Water well and keep in the shade for a few days before moving the pot to its permanent home. See, wasn't that easy? She'll be thrilled.

Of course, you can always just make one of these for yourself. It doesn't have to go to a mom. I'm sure you already thought of that, huh?

Most annuals and started garden plants can be planted outside now. I say “most” because there is always an exception … or two. Things like dahlias, coleus, tomato and pepper plants are not frost tolerant, at all. You won't want to plant them outside until around the first of June. Just watch the weather forecasts. If they say it's going to get under 50 degrees at night, wait a while longer.

It's fun to try growing something new. If you've always admired the neighbor's hydrangea, for instance, maybe this is the year to get one. The local nurseries will have a huge variety of plants, all saying, “take me home.” What the heck, go for it!

You've probably fertilized your lawn already. Now is a good time to dig some balanced fertilizer around your perennials. They'll be glad you did and so will you when they respond.

Hopefully, your feeder has attracted some hummingbirds by now. They are so much fun to watch and are cheap entertainment with only a bit of sugar/water to slurp up.

I was complaining about the hordes of blooming dandelions all over the area when a friend made a comment that I needed to hear. She just said “Remember, they do bloom early and their pollen feeds the early arrivals such as bumble bees when nothing else is at that stage yet.” Good point. On the other hand, please dig out those dandelions!

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is 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 to late October for the past 12 years.

Recent Headlines