There is no holding back spring now! This winter has been long and arduous. While walking the gardens this week summarizing the possible damage, irrigations needs, vegetable placement, with some fresh flowers in the container gardens there was a surprise. Winter was very hard on the gardens this year. Pocket gophers had a feast at my expense, the Scottish terrier dug up several irrigation lines and winter simply froze some plants to death. I believe the gophers and the cold conspired against me while hunkered down from the weather this winter.
This week is the official start of spring and mountain weather could not be nicer. So when
does the spring planting season actually begin at the higher elevations of Arizona?
There is a local myth the season begins after Mothers Day . . . WRONG! Mother’s day is the official start of the summer planting season and by delaying another two months you loose the entire spring season. It is true summer plants like basil, zinnia, tomato and all other summer loving plants need to wait until after the last frost, but garden centers are filled to the brim with spring plants that prefer being planted now.
Lettuce just tastes better when planted in spring. Flowering pansy, stocks and ranunculus do not tolerate summer heat; they must be planted in spring to perform well in the garden. So, go ahead and plant your spring gardens in spring, but wait to plant your summer gardens until Mothers Day.
Flowering bulbs shot up six inches this week celebrating the start of spring. Looks like the crocus and hyacinth will bloom in days, with daffodil and tulips following their coattails. Trees have starting budding out this week as well. Make sure to feed the entire yard within the next two weeks.
This is important! If you want your plants to green up properly they will need something nutritious to get them started. One food has been designed specifically for our region and select plants. Use my ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ 7-4-4 as a natural plant choice. The cottonseed meal and bird guano blend is not only better for your birds and pets, but much safer for those of you drinking from a well.
Plant food when applied correctly will look as though the earth has been salt-and-peppered at just the right taste. This is especially important for your evergreens and lawn to get them greening and off to an early start.
The garden needs some color right now. Go ahead and plant any of the early spring blooms and watch them thrive. Gardens in the 5000 to 6000 foot level have a USDA garden zone of 6 with a strong influence into zone 7. This means many cool tolerant plants can be planted right now. Geraniums, petunia, alyssum, lilac and forsythia can, and should, be planted during the spring season. If you spot a cold front coming simply cover them with a box or some frost cover to get them through the night. Most of the spring plants actually bloom longer if nights remain cold.
Plant of the Week is the ‘Blue Skies Lilac’. Far superior to your grandmothers old fashion lilac. Blue Skies bursts into bloom with branches covered in sky blue spires with a fragrance that is even brighter. One of the better local varieties. Bright green foliage maintains an attractive appearance all summer and ends in autumn colors of aspen gold. Extremely hardy and thrives in all types of mountain soils. Plant multiples to create an attractive 10’ hedge. Grows most successfully in full sun and very cold tolerant even in tough winters. There are over 10 different varieties of lilac that the garden center, but I love this unique blue sky flower color and lilac scent!
Bleeding Heart perennials are the earliest of the spring bloomers that literally light up shady spots with elegant long stems and famous heart shaped flowers. A must see to any gardener needing a pick-me-up and some garden inspiration to start the spring planting season. These huge flowering plants stand two feet tall and in full bloom right now providing years of enjoyment in the yard, raised bed or container garden.
Garden Class – Last week’s container class was so energetic as gardeners rallied around workbenches as they planted thier own herb and vegetable containers, we are doing it again today. This week Lisa and I are teaching this ‘Advanced Container Garden’ class together. Lisa Watters Lain is a container gardener extrodinar with decades of design tips to share. The free garden class is a ‘Make and Take’ garden project with all the local secrets to garden contains that POP! Join us at 9:30 this morning in the largerst of the greenhouses at Watters Garden Center.
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.