~ March 26, 2008 ~
My Time Of Year...
Spring is here and the sights and sounds are everywhere. Daffodils are in bloom. Forsythia shrubs are about to burst open,
greeting us with there bright yellow blooms. The grass is the color of Kelly green. The air smells springier. Can you hear
it in my words? I want to tell everyone I know that I could not be happier that my time of year is here. My hibernation
period is over. Out to the garden my friends, that is where you will find me.
We spent spring break in Phoenix enjoying the warm, dry temperatures. It was wonderful. There were roses,
snapdragons and geraniums in full bloom. The color was magnificent. We took in a Royals game, a Phoenix Suns
basketball game and played a little tennis and golf. We also lazed around the pool and sneaked in an occasional nap. It was
exactly what we needed. Kevin and I had both been sick and to feel the sun on our faces made us feel somewhat better. It
didn't rid us of our illness but it did help our attitude. It is amazing how the sun can do that to a person. A little Vitamin D
was just what the doctor ordered. We are slowly regaining our strength and just in time. After all there is
work to be done!
The Great Divide...
Dividing perennials is important for the garden and the
soul. The garden benefits because many perennials become
overcrowded and need to be thinned out once in a while. The
gardener's soul benefits because it provides an opportunity to
share our garden treasures with other gardeners who will go on to
expand their beauty.
Don't divide the wrong plants! Before you start take a look at our
When to Divide Perennials in our Features section.
Keep 'Em Covered...
Gardeners anxious to get their yard and garden chores done in
spring may be tempted to remove the mulch from their strawberry
beds in March or early April. A portion of the strawberry crop
may be lost however if the mulch is
removed too early in the spring. Removal of the mulch plus
several days of warm weather may encourage the plants to bloom
before the danger of frost or freezing temperatures is past.
Temperatures of 32°F or lower may severely damage or destroy open
flowers. Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a
late spring frost can drastically reduce yields.
To reduce the chances of frost or freeze damage leave the mulch on until
the plants show signs of growth. Periodically examine the plants
under the mulch during periods of warm weather in the spring.
Remove the mulch from the strawberry plants when about 25% of the
plants are showing new growth (it will be white or yellow in
color). Rake the mulch to the center aisles between rows. If
there is a threat of a frost later in the season during bloom,
the mulch can be lightly raked back over the plants.
Part of your spring clean-up may include some tree pruning.
Take your time and do it right. In particular don't leave stubs
behind when pruning. Stubs usually die and become entry points
for decay fungus. Instead cut just outside the branch collar,
the slightly thickened area at the base of the branch. As an
extra precaution remember that pruning should never be done in
damp or wet weather when the fungal spores and bacteria that
infect plants through fresh wounds spread easily.
Here Come The Hummers...
Hummingbirds will be in our area from
mid-April through October. Invite these wonderful birds
into your garden with a hummingbird feeder and the plants they
So, your neighbor's cat has decided that
your garden is its designated litter box? Here are some tips
that might actually work to keep that feline from soiling your
- Try planting rue.
This attractive blue-green herb has a scent that most cats find
- Modify the
cat's behavior. Spray water at the cat when it comes into
the garden. If the cat associates an unpleasant shower
with your garden it will likely find another place to hang out.
- Plant a garden
just for the cat. By creating a small space that the cat
enjoys you may be able to keep it away from the rest of your
plantings. Try catnip, catmint, cat thyme, and valerian.
Stopping The Topping...
Has that tree in the front yard gotten a little too big?
If so you need to resist the urge to "top
it". Topping, also known as heading or stubbing, is a
damaging pruning practice that seriously damages the long-term
health of a tree. According to the
Arboretum many homeowners top their
trees because of a misconception that large trees are
hazardous and that storm debris will be reduced with a reduction
in size. In fact, topped trees produce
large quantities of water sprouts -
shoots that are weakly attached and are easily broken off during
storms - to replace the leaves and
branches that were lost, thereby increasing storm debris.
If you have a zoysia lawn it is still dormant and you should
not be applying any fertilizer to it. Any fertilizer
added now will just feed the weeds and they're overfed as it is.
Be patient. You should be able to fertilize your zoysia lawn in
about six weeks.
"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving,
swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to
the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden
cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings,
while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills
and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into
cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."
~ John Muir