Monday, May 20, 2013

Along the Garden Path… Blooms of Spring by Genevieve Coombs

Spring is here. Warm weather is here. All of the flowers are blooming! It’s been pretty dry, though, and a little rain would be welcome to keep all the plants happy. Some supplemental watering in the early mornings or early evenings will help ensure all these tender new leaves don’t dry out before they have a chance to really grow. Water deeply; don’t just spray and wet the foliage and top centimeter of soil. Set your hose to a slow trickle and let the ground around your plants saturate before moving on to the next thirsty shrub.

There are all kinds of bright blossoms starting to pop out in our gardens. Everyone recognizes the cheery yellow forsythia, but other flowering shrubs and early perennials aren’t so well known. Those big white or pink flowers on trees are Magnolia (yes, we can grow Magnolia in Maine!), and bright fuchsia blossoms belong to small-leafed rhododendrons, a very versatile evergreen shrub. Flowering cherry trees are clouds of pink and white in the landscape. Large shrubs or small trees that have thousands of little tiny white flowers are Serviceberry, a wonderful native plant. Later in spring these will be graced by small blue fruits, a favorite of birds.

Early blooming perennials include Candytuft, a small white groundcover, and the ever popular Creeping (or Moss) Phlox. Phlox subulata comes in a wide range of pink, blue and white shades, some multi-colored like ‘Appleblossom’, which is a pale pink flower with a dark eye, and ‘Candy Stripe’, a white bloom with pink stripes down the center of each petal. ‘Purple Beauty’ is a beautiful true purple. These phlox are a fast spreading groundcover that can take some foot traffic, and are ideal for dry, sunny areas. To keep them looking nice, after the blooms have faded, give ‘em a quick trim with the lawnmower! They may even re-bloom later in the summer!

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Genevieve Coombs is a horticulturist and manager at Roosevelt Trail Garden Center in Windham

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