My garden is so lovely right now that I have a lot of trouble tearing myself away. The ninebark shrub (Physocarpus opulifolius) and columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) show no signs of letting up, and the pollinator activity during the warmer parts of the day is incredible. The very cool nights will ensure a lengthy show for mid- and late-spring bloomers like these, mountain laurel, and rhododendrons. But many summer bloomers that have usually begun by now are still just showing buds. The last perennials in my “prairie,” Hibiscus moschato, emerged only last week. I thought the cold winter had killed them.
Because the nights remain cool, you can probably safely continue to plant shrubs and woody plants for another week or so, but beware of hot, sunny days. Newly planted material needs ample water to as it grows new roots and adjusts to its new environment. Perennials will need extra water for at least a few weeks. Woody plants will need it for the entire growing season; very large plants, for more than one season.
Here are some things you can attend to while you’re admiring the garden in this lovely spring weather:
– plant warm weather crops such as basil, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, and beans, as well as annuals such as begonias. Begin to stake tomatoes and other large plants immediately on planting. Pick spring greens often and remove them when they begin to bolt.
– IF you feel you must feed your lawn (which is completely unnecessary), apply a slow-acting organic fertilizer according to the package directions. And then don’t fertilize again until Labor Day.
– If you are continuing to plant and divide and move perennials, be sure to keep them well-watered after you plant, especially if the weather turns warm and sunny.
– do not do any pruning except removal of dead or diseased material while woody plants are in active growth. They are using all their energy to accomplish the vital tasks of leafing out, blooming, and setting fruit. They have no energy to spare for making scar tissue. The next window of pruning time will come in midsummer.
— for better bloom next year, remove the flowers of spring-blooming shrubs such as lilacs after they finish blooming. The exception, of course, is fertile, fruit-bearing shrubs such as native species. The gorgeous flowers on this ninebark will turn into interesting looking fruit capsules in shades of reddish tan. The many tiny seeds will feed the birds next winter.