Every Blooming Thing

A Fushia plant growing in the garden of Charlotte Rodriguez. 

OK, have you been getting those colorful tempting seed catalogues? Me, too.

Wandering through the pages I drool over the luscious varied plants, beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables. Ah, I dream of spring!

I thought a trip to the nursery was a wise next step for me. OK, I was slightly surprised by the information I learned from a helpful employee: Too early for seed planting. Not too early to get the beds ready. Oh.

Since it is not too early to prepare for spring gardening, I thought I would share the old Spring Flower Beds Prep List.

Check out your garden. Make a plan for any additions to your flower beds (bulbs, plants, shrubs, trees) which you may want to add to your beds, and decide where you want them. Also, sketch out any changes to the shape or design of your beds.

After learning more about camellias, my additions will include two or three of these plants. (Did you read Kathy Bramhall’s article last week on Camellias?) I especially like camellias have a root system that will grow under oak trees.

It’s too late to plant spring blooming bulbs, but the nursery I visited has many summer blooming bulbs for flowers and vegetables with many berry bushes and bare root fruit trees available. Bareroot berry bushes include raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, boysenberries. Winter blooming bulbs include dahlias, amaryllis, gladiolas, calla, caladiums, begonias, and vegetables – seed potatoes, asparagus, shallots, garlic.

As for changes to the shape, I’d like to round off a few corners to soften the linear look of my flower beds. Don’t tell my husband though, he doesn’t know yet.

Clean Beds. Quick tip before getting your hands dirty is drag your fingernails across a bar of soap to help prevent dirt from compacting under them and easier cleaning later. Remove any debris, dead annuals, moldy leaves, and limbs that have accumulated through the winter. I cleaned out dead palms from our lone palm tree and limbs and fungus pods of all sizes from oak trees, along with leaves from neighboring mulberry trees.

Certainly, cleaning beds includes weeding. Now is the time to really exercise some weed preventive measures. Pull those weeds with as much root as possible which may be a bit easier with the softer soil. Although, pulling may not be enough.

One measure I have used for weed preventive is to place black plastic down with mulch on top to block sun and air to the weeds. Another version of this, and maybe less expensive, is to place thick stack of newspapers, 10 pages or so, on the weeds and cover with approximately four inches of mulch. What I haven’t tried, but have read about, are pour boiling water on weeds and spray weeds with a salt/vinegar solution. Mix one-part salt with eight parts of vinegar with a splash of dish detergent and spray directly onto weeds. Careful with this method as weeds are close to your flowers and plants. This will be convenient with those weeds which grow in driveway cracks and patio.

If you are prepping terra cotta pots for planting, mix equal parts of white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water. Spray on pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let it dry before use for planting.

Prune Plants. Prune the herbaceous plants down to the new spring growth. My Mexican and Russian Sages have about 4 inches of new growth so I pruned down to that. As recommended I pruned the Mexican morning glories to about 6 inches above ground which will help them to rejuvenate for stronger growth. Non-herbaceous, or woody perennials, will need some TLC also. Using loppers, I cut my Alabama Angel Trumpets down to new leaves on their canes. Wow, the flower beds are looking neat and tidy. I have so much more to do, but it is very rewarding to be back in my beds.

Plant. Not yet! After the cleanup and pruning, it is a great time to amend your bed soil with well-rotted manure, or your own compost to replenish the nutrients, then mix in good soil. Work about six inches deep. Then let the soil settle for a while. Also, think about your lawn by adding fertilizers and treating those pesky weeds ahead of the warmer weather.

Now it’s time to plant those chosen plants, bulbs, trees, shrubs. Check with your nursery if you have planting questions, and/or read the seed and bulb packages, or come to a garden club meeting where you have access to some master gardeners!

Red Bluff Garden Club will meet Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the Red Bluff Community Center. Red Bluff Garden Club, and a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., Pacific Region, and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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