With spring only a few weeks away I am excited about getting the first seeds and starts planted. Thoughts of tasty heirloom tomatoes, garden fresh spring greens, cucumbers, basil, a wide assortment of sweet and spicy peppers, and a colorful array of flowers will keep your spirits high through the challenges of spring. Designing new and sustainable, low maintenance garden features will help make your yard come to life. Adding on to my edible garden with new fruit varieties, vegetable starts bought from local sources, planting herbs to use in our kitchen, and seeing the perennial flowers come back year after year are some of the pleasures of spring for me.
When it comes to flowers, there are gorgeous varieties that are suited for all types of tough conditions such as cold winters, drought, very hot temperatures, and poor soils.
Having pollinator friendly varieties planted to attract the butterflies, bees, and birds will help your garden grow healthy. Yarrow, salvia, agastache, lavender, penstemon, echinacea, and helianthus are some beautiful varieties that will fill your garden with a profusion of colors and fragrances. Transforming your lawn into an eye catching colorful carpet can save you water and many hours of maintenance. Thymus “pink chintz” is a very low grower that can handle dry conditions and is very attractive with its early spring blooms. Veronica Turkish Speedwell is also a low growing groundcover that blooms later in the spring. These attractive spreading plant types will form a mini meadow and can be accented around the edges with some lofty native plants in the ground or in tall colorful ceramic planters. A “hardscape” of large rocks, a bench with a shade arbor above it, or possibly a dry creek bed made of small rounded river run rock can also make an attractive point of interest. Check out one of my favorite sites, highcountrygardens.com for these inspiring and sustainable water wise garden plants and many more.
When looking for a new garden spot in your yard, consider the full sun or partial shade conditions that the area will get, how many hours of direct sunlight will be on which part of the garden, and if fences, buildings, or trees will shade the area. A maximum of 8 hours of sunlight is perfect for most plants. Morning sun or partial shade works well for lettuces and most flowers. Tomatoes, peppers, basil, and corn need full sun. Peas can grow on a fence or trellis with southern exposure. Most plant nurseries buy from suppliers that state the plants’ soil and sun needs on their identification stake. You can also look online for a garden plant hardiness zone guide. If you want your gardens to flower all spring and summer, I recommend that you keep going to your local garden nursery throughout the six month growing season and choose from recent arrivals that are just starting to bloom.
In your vegetable garden and for your fruit trees, March and April are good months to amend your soil with as much organic matter as possible. If you have a compost pile, use the this to top dress your veggie beds or rows with three or four inches of compost or well-rotted manure that you will then dig in 3-4 inches to stimulate the beneficial microbes already alive in the soil. I have had good luck starting beans, peas, snow peas, eggplant, spinach, chard, cabbage, and other hardy vegetables from starts or seed early in the spring. Between now and the end of March tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces can be planted in a greenhouse, a small hot frame, under GCI row cover which is a lightweight cover that shields the plants from frost,cold, wind, and insects.
There is a huge selection of drought tolerant flowers to choose from at highcountrygardens.com.
For simply gorgeous and exotic flowering plants, you’ll be smart to visit Annie’s Annuals and Perennials at anniesannuals.com.
The amazing Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company has the most complete and beautifully photographed seed catalog found anywhere. Visit rareseeds.com for a real treat.