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Over the Garden Fence

Where gardeners come to find out what's happening out in the yard.

A More Normal Spring

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Down the Garden Path

Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator

Our spring weather has actually been more of what we should have had the last couple of years. Yep, we got spoiled with warm early springs, yet we have seen what a warm dry spring can set us up for, an even hotter and dryer summer. All of us take note when the robins and other migrating birds show up, a pretty good sign that we are going to get spring weather soon. A good indicator plant in the neighborhood is a silver maple. Those buds really swell and turn bright red as one of the earliest trees to show us the weather is changing. We would expect those flower buds anytime from early March on, depending on the pattern of night and day time temperatures. Right now nighttime temperatures are not going as low and the daytime temperatures on more days than not are almost saying "let's go out without the coat " temps. It is this kind of weather that starts the sap flow from the root systems into the trunks and canopies of our trees.

Out in the landscape beds on the sunnier exposures, we are seeing our spring bulbs starting. Some daffodils even have their unopened flower buds well out of the ground. Tips of tulips are there too. You should expect to see the very early smaller bulbs actually blooming soon.

Of our shrubs, alpine currant will be one of the first to show its tiny pale green flowers followed by those small green leaves. Alpine currant is not a plant that has showy flowers, but like the silver maple, lets us know spring is coming. Another shrub or more correctly a broad leaved evergreen that blooms to let us know spring is arriving is the boxwood. This is another plant offering a light green tiny flower against the overwintering green leaves. This is a favorite of our bravest little insects out there in the cooler temperatures looking for a meal of nectar or pollen.

I have written a lot on how important it will be this year to help our plants recover from last summer. Some of the landscape plants may not flower as much or the flowers will be smaller than normal. This is a function of how much energy the plants were able to produce before the heat and dry soils showed up. The 2013 growing season will be a year of recovery for sure. Plants are going to start the season with what food reserves they have and with our help with fertilizing using organic matter or that bag of fertilizer will make a big difference for 2014 and beyond. Even if we have a more normal summer with our typical temperatures and rainfall, providing some additional nutrition will be a good idea. Plants will benefit the most from fertilizing while they are actively growing in the spring and again late in the season after the above ground portions are going dormant. Be sure the fertilizers can get into the soil profile, so don't apply until spring is well under way, so there is not frost left in the ground.

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