Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring ... or Winter?

Wasn't it 90+ degrees only a week ago? Now it's 50 and I'm sure plants in my garden are very confused. I have an Hibiscus 'Torchy Red' in a wine barrel that sent up new shoots during the mini heat wave and is now shivering in its knickers I'm sure. It was buried under an overly enthusiastic matthiola tricuspidata till I cut that plant back. I recommend the latter for it's incredibly lovely silvery, deeply lobed foliage and night-scented lavender flowers. Unlike most stock, it gets bushy, to two feet tall and wide.
Now is the time to be weeding and cleaning out any overgrown late winter/early spring plants. I've finally yanked out my Iceland poppies and pansies, making room for some of my spring favorites like coreopsis, agastache, clarkia amoena and delphinium. Don't forget to amend the soil before you plant and to use Sure Start or a little slow release fertilizer.
Normally we top dress with mulch in order to save water and keep down the weeds but mulch has the added benefit of protecting young roots from extremes in temperature, a good thing given our crazy weather these days!
Hostas -- they're back! And you know what that means. Time to pull out the Sluggo and protect the young hosta shoots. Hostas are a treat but they're near the top of the list of snail delicasies.
Spring is a great time to go shopping for California natives. They're showing up in great variety in local nurseries and they're wonderful for adding color and interest, especially for the impatient gardener. For the color blue, we have the lovely phacelia species, blue gilias and the popular Baby Blue Eyes (nemophilia menziesii). Pinks? That's clarkias, although there are coral and salmon colored species there as well. Yellows? Cream Cups and Tidy Tips come to mind, as well as the Bay Friendly Cosmos bipinnatus (Yellow Cosmos).
We're in heaven now and you can be forgiven for feeling like a kid in a candy store when you go shopping for plants. When people ask me what I like about gardening, I tell them it offers not one but multiple joys: window shopping on websites etc.; actually buying the plants; getting my hands dirty as I plant my new treasures; watching them grow, letting the anticipation build; and finally the payoff when plants bloom. I even enjoy the 'dirty' work --prepping the planting beds, trimming and bed maintenance. I think it's the true mark of loving your garden; you don't mind doing even mundane work, knowing it will all contribute to beautifying your oasis.

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