Tag Archives: spring blooms

Don’t Pick The Flowers

How many treasures disappear over winter & re-appear in spring?

unusually early crocus in January, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s magic.

How many are then weeded out by mistake?

Tragic!!

Some treasures, like crocus, send out blooms straight away, so they’re safe.

Others, like cyclamen,  have really distinctive leaves, so they’re safe too.

cyclamen leaf bud in January, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But there are so many others…

The wee Blue Eyed Iris is one treasure I’ve weeded out.  (I mistook it for grass…. turns out its also called Blue Eyed GRASS!  Go figure. )

Shooting Star is another victim.  (I mistake the young leaves for dandelion.)

From these tragedies, I’ve become a little more cautious.

young sea blush Plectritis congesta in leaf garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The other day I was crawling around on our mountain (rocky outcropping), looking closely at plants growing in the moss.

So what is this – – Treasure ?  Weed??

My twitchy fingers  pluck out those blades of grass, but cautiously hold off on the other little plants.

young sea blush in flower, native plant, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Today I rejoice! They’ve proven themselves  to be the native annual: Sea Blush.  (I can recognize the flower.)

Yippee!
Caution pays off.

Thank goodness they’ve thrown a couple early blooms.  I don’t know how long I’d have held off from weeding them.  Now I’ll carefully tidy any competition around these gems & look forward to the moss blushing a lovely pink this April.

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May Garden Activities

 

saxifraga in bloom, Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins

My morning coffee entertainment is watching the birds relay food to their voracious young back in the nest. If I’m lucky, one of these mornings I’ll get to watch the little ones fledge.

 

Planting

  • If you’re gung-ho about watering hanging baskets all summer,  basket-stuffers galore are at all the plant sales this month. When choosing plants, keep in mind whether the basket lives in a sunny or shady location. Another handy design strategy is providing some “thrill, spill & fill” in each container.
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli, canna lilies & such), Many folks grew them inside over the past month or two, and move them into the ground now. At the same time as planting the dahlias, put in the stakes.  They’re not needed right now, but they will be later, and then there’s a greater risk of damaging the roots.

Perennials

  • Begonias, geraniums, & other tender plants that have also been over-wintered inside can be set in the garden now. Even tropical house plants can go out to a dappled spot on the deck. It’s amazing how much faster they grow outside in the summer.
  • Even though they’re small now, pinch back snapdragons by 1/2… they’ll respond by growing bushier & produce more blooms.
  • Cut back the euphorbias after their big show.  Letting them go to seed in the garden is sheer folly.  These garden thugs spread easily enough through underground runners.
  • lilac, red hot pokers, irs, lupin, with the ceanothus just about to come into bloom too, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

    Dead-heading spent blooms can spur some plants into another flush of flowers

Weeding

  • Wander through the beds digging the weeds… This is also an opportunity to downsize populations of snails, slugs & tent caterpillars as you discover them
  • Unless you’re totally cool with widespread volunteers next year, cut back or pull out the centurea, forget me nots, cerinthe and other heavy seeders after their blooms are done.

    chestnut bloom
    photo by SVSeekins

Irrigation

  • Whether it’s garden hoses, or a fully automated system, it’s time to prep irrigation before it’s really needed.  Replacing rubber gaskets & rings reduces that nasty dribble at the hose connection.
  • When you water, water slowly and deeply in the early morning or evening when the air is cool and calm.

    early camas bloom Mt. Tolmie, garry oak meadow, garden Victoria BC
    photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • If there are bare patches that you’d like to seed over, go for it. Keep that area moist to give the seeds some support until established.
  • Keeping the mower blade above 2 inches will provide a lush lawn, and also enough leaf cover to give the grass’ roots a little shade (so they don’t dry out so quickly).
  • The meadow grasses on our rocky outcropping are ready to go to seed, so C heads out there with the whipper-snipper. That way the seed doesn’t spread into the beds
  • If the lawn gets 1 inch of water every two weeks, it’ll still will turn the color of straw in the heat of summer but will bounce back super quickly after temperatures cool in fall.

    spring blooming Daylily
    photo by SVSeekins

Veg & Berry Patch

  • As it’s warming up, give the ‘starts’ some outside time during the day to harden off… they’ll be ready to plant outside by the Victoria Day long weekend
  • herbs: Plant heat-loving seedlings of annual herbs like basil, cilantro, & parsley. Perennial herbs, like chives (blooming now), oregano, rosemary, and thyme find permanent homes in my borders. Take care with mints – they should go into containers to keep them from invading the world.
  • As the potatoes start to grow, ‘hilling up’ (adding extra soil around the stems) will help the plants produce more.
  • Enjoy the fresh rhubarb, but leave a few stems to help the plant feed the roots & produce a bigger crop next year.
  • starts:  Direct seed carrots, leeks, onions, spinach, swiss chard, beets, parsnips, broccoli, radishes, arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, oriental greens, and peas outdoors.
gravenstein apple blooms in april garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a solution of 10% bleach + water mix. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.

Pruning

  • Forsythia & Other flowering shrubs should be pruned right after flowering so they have the full growing season to prepare for next year’s bloom

    wooly sunflower in bloom, oregon sunshine, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

Fertilizing

  • add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding
  • fertilize spring bulbs after bloom so they can soak up nutrient & rebuild the bulbs for next year. Note: Let the leaves (solar panels) continue to grow, helping out with the bulb’s rebuild.

    laburnum tree in bloom, Victoria BC garden
    photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color
trees: apples… dogwood… magnolia… chestnuts… laburnum… hawthorn…
shrubs: camelia… heathers… pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… rhododendron & azalea… lilacs… weigelia… california lilac (ceanothus)… wisteria…
perennials: wild violets… trillium… bleeding hearts… erysimum (wall flower)… euphorbia… myosotis (forget me nots)… pulmonaria… vinca (periwinkle)… calla lily… oregon sunshineevergreen clematis & clematis montana… solomon’s seal…
ferns: sword… giant chain… deer… the full gamut…
bulbs: camas… blue bells… alium…

young tree peony in bloom cu, Joe Harvey, Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events
Plant sale’s & garden tours abound. Whether I need anything or not, I’m sure to trip over a few.

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© SVSeekins, 2014

April Garden Activities

Fawn Lily bloom & leaf CU
photo by SVSeekins

The birds are waking me up with the sunrise at this time of year. They’re busy nesting & hooking up. The bird bath is occasionally dry now, so it’s good to give it a good cleaning & refill. Even birds need a nice spa treatment when things are hectic, right?

 

euphorbia in bloom Victoria BC garden
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • Keep the lawn mower blades sharpened & the proper bits lubricated as the machine is back in regular use now.
  • Give the garden hoses & sprinklers a good once over to be sure they’re in shape for the upcoming dry season.
  • Keep those pruners & clippers sharp, too!
  • It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.

 

heather path at Abkhazi Gardens
photo by SVSeekins

Pruning

  • Pinch back snapdragon & other summer bloomers to promote bushier plants & more blooms
  • Shear back winter heathers after blooms peter out.
  • Shear back rosemary.
  • Prune conifers when the bright new growth starts to darken to the matching shade of green (as needed to contain size)
  • Prune stone fruit trees while blooming (plum, peach, cherry, nectarine…)
  • Roses can be pruned when the forsythia is in bloom.
  • Prune back ornamental grasses 4-6 inches from the ground & compost clippings.
  • Once the Corsican Hellebore is finished blooming the whole stem can be cut to the ground.  New stems will bloom next year.
cu - forsythia in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Forsythia & Other flowering shrubs should be pruned right after flowering so they have the full growing season to prepare for next year’s bloom

  • start with removing dead, diseased & damaged limbs
  • then take out crossing branches, & give the interior of the shrub some breathing space
  • take out some old branches to allow for fresh growth
  • try not to get too crazy… 1/3 of the living growth is plenty    🙂

 

Tulip buds that the deer haven't eaten... yet
photo by SVSeekins

Fertilizing

  • Add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding
  • Sprinkle horticultural lime around clematis & scratch it into mulch
  • If you’re really wanting a lush lawn, now’s the optimum time to fertilize.
  • Fertilize spring bulbs after bloom so that they can soak up as many nutrients & rebuild the bulbs for next year.
    note: Let the leaves (solar panels) can soak up as much goodness from the sunshine to help out with the rebuild

 

Pacific Bleeding Heart in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

Planting

  • Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli & lilies), depending on the soil conditions. They don’t like sitting in waterlogged soils.
  • Sow sweet peas and hardy annuals such as alyssum & marigolds.

New rhodos, camellias & other spring temptations are in the nurseries. Get newly acquired plants into ground ASAP

Camellia in full bloom
photo by SVSeekins
  • dig the hole just a bit wider & deeper than the pot leaving some loose soil in the bottom
  • add bone meal as a root booster & compost as a fertilizer… stir in some water
  • gently tap plant out of its container & set in hole so that it matches ground level… fill in hole with mix of compost & original soil … firm in
  • water well so air pockets bubble  out of any places around the roots

 

Basket of Gold (aurinia)
photo by SVSeekins

 Weeding

  • With the temperature increasing so is growth. Thank goodness for that January mulching! It helps keep moisture in the soil, but also really deters weeds. Wander through the beds digging the occasional perennial weed (dandelion) as well as any snails or slugs as you discover them.
  • If the mulching didn’t happen, keep a check on the carpet of young weeds and remove them before they take hold… Pop weed goes to seed quickly, so get rid of it fast!

 

grape hyacinth (muscari)
photo by SVSeekins

Perennials

  • Peonies are jumping out of the ground. Before the plants get so big that branches will break during support installation, get those peony rings in place. (I use tomato cages instead)
  • Overgrown clumps of snowdrops & winter aconite bulbs can be divided & moved to where ever you’d like more

Divide overgrown perennials astilbe, daylilies, hostas lamb’s ears…)

The Japanese Garden on Mayne Island
photo by SVSeekins
  • cut the tops back to a couple of inches.
  • lift the whole plant out with a fork.
  • look for a natural line across the plant and cut it with a sharp knife right through.
  • continue this until you have divided the plant up to suit your needs.
  • replant the pieces in groups of 3-5 to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating color schemes.
  • pot up spares immediately.
  • water well.

 

aubretia at Camosun College Victoria Garden
photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • Edge the beds & lawns, slicing the grass runners and digging out any weeds while they’re still easy to manage.
  • The grass is prime now,
  • Re-seed any bare areas: scratch the surface with a lawn rake and sow.
viburnum at Camosun College Victoria Garden
photo by SVSeekins

Veg & Berry Patch

  • Plant the potatoes after they start to sprout.
  • It’s warm enough now to take the heavy winter protection off the asparagus & strawberry beds
  • Dig out the winter kale as it finishes up & goes to flower (unless you’re waiting to collect seed

Get into the raspberry patch (or loganberry, or blackberry…)

sea blush 2 victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins
  • take out the spent & spindly stems.
  • tie this year’s producers to the trellis.

starts
Direct seed carrots, leeks, onions, spinach, swiss chard, beets, parsnips, broccoli, radishes, arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, spinach, oriental greens, and peas outdoors.

 

Doronicum, Caucasian Leopard's Bane, Great Leopard's Bane, Plantain Leopard's Bane, leopard's-bane, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Greenhouse & Cold Frames
Starts

  • tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers & eggplants if you haven’t already
  • move starts into larger pots as necessary

Watch for ‘damping off’ disease in seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors. This fungus causes the stems to collapse and the seedlings to fall over.

Pieris Japonica Mountain Fire Victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins
  • avoid over-crowding seeds & sprouts. It’s better to have a tray of fewer, healthy plants than to lose many to this disease
  • water often, but sparingly
  • give seedlings enough light to prevent them becoming ‘leggy’
  • turn seed trays daily to ensure even growth.

 

apple blossoms in May
photo by SVSeekins

Seasonal Color

trees: early apple… plum… cherries…. crabapple… pear… dogwood… magnolia…
shrubs: forsythia… flowering red currant… silk tassel bush… camellia… oregon grape… heathers… pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… heavenly bamboo… early rhododendron… early azalea…
perennials: aubretia… basket of gold (aurinia)… candy tuft… wild violets… trillium… pasque flower… bleeding hearts… erysimum (wall flower)… euphorbialeopard’s bane… myosotis (forget me nots)… pulmonaria… bergeniahellebore… primula… winter jasmine…  vinca (periwinkle)…
ferns: licorice…
bulbs: fawn lily… daffodils… tulips… grape hyacinth… chionodoxa (glory of snow)…

 

elephant ears (bergenia) in bloom Victoria garden
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

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© SVSeekins, 2014