John Zvirovski / Sun Garden Editor
We have discussed before how to plan for a cool and damp season with annuals and perennials, but we can also add to the mix various garden products. Gardens are not just for flowers or landscapes, but they also include items -- herbs, vegetables and fruits -- that we can consume.
Now that we are allowed to work in the yard, you may have noticed some shrubs that became damaged by the ice storm in December or the heavy snow that took the stems down as it melted.
Oh, alas! The warm weather is settling in and the heavy jackets can come off. Even a few days to dare the barefoot routine while walking the dog! Yes, may sound a bit early, but the weather is dictating that we can take advantage of the mild and consistent days … for now. There is another month ahead that could still give us a good snowstorm. A few years back I remember the winter that would never leave and recall a snowfall of over a foot of snow near the third week of April, so it could still happen. Do I think it will?
The spring season always seems to heighten our anticipation for spring flowers and color. The appearance of blooms in shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and white are very alluring to all of us after a gray, colorless winter. Of all the colors that first appear, it is the yellow shades that seem to grab our attention the most. I don’t know if it is because that color seems to be fluorescent to our senses or because it is the color of sunshine.
It’s time to take inventory of your garden seeds and see what will be needed this year.
Luckily for us and our gardens, we got a week of cooler weather to slow things down a bit. Seems like a great deal of the country is experiencing a very early spring season to date, but that is not always a good thing for all the plant materials that are being tricked into making an early arrival. I always tell people, don’t worry too much about the cycle as plants have a way of resurrecting in the event of a hard frost, storm or damaging wind. They always seem to persevere in any situation because this is just the act of survival.
Crotons are a wonderful plant to use indoors or outdoors. They may sound like something you would want to put on your salad, but they are not the same as the croutons that we do eat on them. Crotons may even look pretty enough to eat, but I wouldn’t put them in your salads as the milky sap from the leaves will have a bitter taste and cause a great deal of irritation. The sap from this plant is one of the many traits belonging to the family of the Euphorbias or cushion spurge that we are more familiar with in our area.
This past week has been a nice respite to the cold we had in December and the beginning of January. Seems the past few decades, we have had a “spring thaw” every month of the winter season, even if it has just been for a few days. This weekend we might actually see another record-high temperature for this time of year. Not that I am complaining, as I always enjoy some nicer weather from time to time to break up the cold. This is also a good time to observe what is going on in your yard so far.
One of the most common types of seeds that are recognized by gardeners and non-gardeners alike is that of pine cones. I think it is one of the earliest seed types that I remember as a child, and I am sure that goes the same for many other people today. I think the size alone is what captures the attention, but they are unique in many ways also. Don’t forget that these seed clusters occur on most evergreen species, and many of those will grow in most parts of the world.
Even though warmer weather has moved in for a while, winter is still here for a few months to come, but it does get us into the mood to think a little spring. This is a good time to think about what we have planned for the year. The garden catalogs are now arriving in the mail and the local outlets are getting their seeds and seed starter kits out. It won’t be long and we will be back out in the yard doing what we enjoy most, getting our hands dirty!