Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Signs of Spring

All this week it has been raw and cold...After a few warm  teaser days, winter seems like its back...And yet...it isnt...The air feels different...the sun is stronger and stays longer in the horizen...You can actually smell the earth now....Its cold, but alive out there...Its time for the first bulbs to emerge......Crocus is one of my favorites....

Im always thrilled by the transformation of winter into spring...I think of all the new things I want to put into the garden...All the mistakes of last year have been forgiven...I anxiously start doing regular garden walks to see (1) what has lived (2) what is thriving (3) and what has died....Natives plants like my summer sweet , oakleaf hydrangea, little bluestem  and inkberry are thriving, as they should be....If you want a no fuss  garden, just put in alot of natives.....But my favorites this time of year are the bulbs...If you live in a climate that can tolerate these cold hardy superstars, it is nature's way of rewarding you for the long cold winter....While humans shiver and cover up and curse the cold, bulbs are loving it every step of the way to bloom time...Sudden spring snows dont faze them...They just stunt their growth until the cold snap passes....I first saw the beauty of bulbs while living in New England...Every March I was amazed at the masses of crocus, grape hyacinth and daffodils pushing their way up thru the dirt and snow....Sometimes it seemed the worse the winter, the more beautiful the bulbs that would emerge in early spring....I first saw this early beauty called  scilla at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts 2 weeks after a blizzard that dropped15 inches of snow.

Another great thing about bulbs is that you can grow them in containers over the winter...Just add organic matter/soil, some fertilizer like Bulb Tone and plant your bulbs...Keep the pot in a cool spot like a garage until early spring and keep it watered, never allowing the soil to dry out...Around the spring solestice here in Maryland, I put the pots outside to finish the bloom time.

So however you celebrate spring in the garden, dont forget to get some bulbs..Places like Lowes and Home Depot often have bulbs grown in biodegradable containers so you can just dig a hole and plant the whole container in the ground...The "pot" breaks down in the soil and fertilizes the plant...This is good for folks who forgot to plant bulbs in the fall or had no time to get them in the ground last year.
So heres to the beginning of a new growing season.

Happy Spring!