March 15 – Advanced Container Designs $35 (Free to watch)
March 22 – Grape, Brambles & Blueberries to the Kitchen (Free)
March 29 – Drip Irrigation Design and Installation (Free)
April 5 – Inspiring Plants & Mountain Advice that Works (The first 10 students to bring $10 and a soil sample receive an on-site soil test)
April 12 – Grow Your Own Groceries From Tomatoes 2 Fruits (Free) includes a coupon
April 19 – Landscapes Filled with Low Care Native Plants (Free) includes a coupon
April 26 – Mood Altering Flower Gardening (Free)
While walking my gardens this week, I determined that my landscape had sustained some serious damage from this year's long and arduous winter. Pocket gophers had feasted at my expense, our Scottish terrier had dug up several irrigation lines, and some plants had been frozen to death. In short, winter was very hard on the gardens this year. It appeared that the gophers conspired against me while I was hunkered down during our winter months. The weeks ahead will find me righting these seasonal wrongs.
There is a myth that our local planting season begins after Mother's Day . . . WRONG! Mother's Day is the official start of the summer planting season. Because summer plants, like basil, zinnias, and tomatoes, need to wait until after the last frost, do wait until Mother's Day to plant your summer gardens. But by delaying all planting for another two months you lose the entire spring planting season. So when does the spring planting season actually begin at the higher elevations of Arizona? Many plants can be planted right now.
Gardens need some color so we're nudged to plant any of the early spring bloomers. This means geraniums, petunias, alyssum, lilacs, and forsythias that can, and should, be planted during the spring season. Flowering pansies, stocks, and ranunculus do not tolerate summer heat and must be planted in spring to perform well. You'll find that garden centers are filled to the brim with plants that prefer being planted now.
If a cold front is forecast, simply cover the plants with a box or some other frost protection to get them through the night. Most flowering spring plantings actually bloom longer if they get to endure some cold nights. Also, I contend that lettuce just tastes better when planted in spring.
In celebration of the season, flowering bulbs shot up six inches this week. Looks like crocus and hyacinth bulbs will bloom in days, with daffodils and tulips following shortly. Also, I'm sure that this week you've noticed many trees have started budding. With these signs of spring growth, we must make sure to feed the entire yard within the next two weeks.
This is important! If you want your plants to green up properly you will need to supply them with the appropriate nutrition to get them started. This is especially important for your evergreens and lawns to get them greening and off to an early start. My 'All Purpose Plant Food' 7-4-4 has been designed specifically for our growing region. When this blend of cottonseed meal and bird guano has been applied correctly, the earth will look as if it has been salt-and-peppered. This food is safe to use around birds and pets, and is non-threatening to wells providing drinking water.
Plant of the Week is the 'Blue Skies Lilac'. Far superior to our grandmothers' old-fashioned lilacs, it is one of the better local varieties. When Blue Skies bursts into bloom its branches are covered in fragrant sky blue spires. The bright green foliage maintains an attractive appearance all summer and ends in autumn colors of aspen gold. Extremely hardy, it thrives in all types of mountain soils. Plant multiples to create an attractive 10'- high hedge. It grows most successfully in full sun and is very cold-tolerant even in tough winters. There are more than 10 different varieties of lilacs at the garden center, but I love this unique sky-blue flower and its true lilac fragrance!
Bleeding Heart is the earliest of the spring blooming perennials. It really can light up shady spots with its familiar heart-shaped flowers on elegant long stems. It's a must see for any gardener needing some inspiration to start the spring planting season. These huge flowering plants stand two feet tall and are in full bloom right now. They are sure to provide years of enjoyment in the yard, raised bed, or container garden.
Gardening Class – Last week's container class was so overflowing with energy from gardeners planting their own herb and vegetable containers, that we are repeating the class today. Working together, Kelly Mattox (container gardener extraordinaire) and I are teaching this weeks 'Advanced Container Garden' class. This free container garden class shares the secrets necessary to create local garden that POP! Join us at 9:30 this morning in the largest of the greenhouses at Watters Garden Center.
Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.