Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day! And, happy spring, at least I think it is spring. If our flowers are as confused as we are by all these weather changes, it should be a very interesting gardening season.
I am happy to be back and based on my emails, many of you are ready to get into the garden. However, you have a lot of questions, and so do I.
I don’t know if those early blossoms that started in the 80-degree days of March will be viable after enduring the sub-freezing nights of late April and terrible dryness followed by cold downpours. To be honest, your guess is as good as mine. This is new territory in gardening for the frozen north. I think some blossoms will be fine; others, not so much. I do know that for the first time in many years, I actually got to enjoy my snowdrops. They were not covered with snow and it was warm enough in March to appreciate their appearance in the garden.
I am aware that part of the appeal of this column are the photos and today’s need some explanation. They were taken this April at the HGTV Flower and Garden Show at Epcot at Disney World. Besides being pretty, they do have something to do with the column ... really.
I know that moms and grandmas, and probably their male counterparts, recognize Bambi, Thumper and Flower. Well, have you checked your tulips — Bambi has been to visit mine already. And I guarantee you that somewhere on the back 40, Flower has dug a few holes trying to get at the grub supply. And as to Thumper, he hasn’t been seen in these parts for quite a while. I am told it has something to do with the healthy coyote population. But, he certainly is lovable.
But all kidding aside, you do need to get Deer Off onto those hosta leaves the minute they start shooting up or Bambi will be in the buffet line. Also, don’t forget the Sluggo around those hostas, unless you want their leaves to have holes in them all season. The Sluggo will also help protect your new seedlings. If you are generous with it this month and the first two weeks of June, your slug problem should be minimal for the rest of the season.
Other chores that need doing now include pruning the forsythia before it forms next year’s flowers. The same holds true of lilacs as soon as they have gone by. I threw the lilacs in there because who knows if they are going to bloom early and be gone before the next column. This is also the time when roses need to be fed as do hydrangeas, which like rose food. Try to put a slow-release, pelletized fertilizer on all your beds as soon as you clear away the winter debris.
I included the butterfly photo as a reminder that they will be around soon. I actually saw several on a few warm days in early April. You should not, however, expect to see the one in the picture. If you do, call the Extension Service or someone because we were told it is from the tropics. I don’t think global warming has gotten that bad, that quickly. At least, I hope not. I will be doing a column later in the season on butterfly gardening, creating habitats that encourage them and which flowers attract and keep them happy.
I will also write a column on planning and building children’s gardens. Have you guessed yet? Yes, the letter “C” is for canna and it is part of an alphabet garden. The fairy is Fawne. For those of you who don’t know and I can’t understand how that is possible, she is an animal fairy. You know, one of the laughing, lighthearted winged creatures who put baby birds back in their nests, give fireflies their light bulb and pull thorns from chipmunk paws. I have just given you the first clue to children’s gardens — you have to think like they do.
For those of you who plant dahlias or other tender summer-blooming bulbs, have at it. The usual reasons for not planting this early — cold soil and/or wet soil —don’t seem to be a problem this year. Although, one of our local farmers predicted he would be planting corn in the mud as always. Time will tell, I guess.
The dahlias won’t put any green above the ground for at least two weeks and you should be absolutely safe. If there is a bad forecast for a night or two, just cover the area up. Planting now means at least two extra weeks of flowers — yeah! I would be very careful about tender annuals like impatiens and begonias because you could be covering a lot of spaces to protect them. Go ahead and plant up containers because you can always bring them in the garage or onto a covered porch or, for that matter, into the living room. I mean plants are special, right?
The gardening column will run the first and third Sundays of each month, so look for me again on June 3. Until then, enjoy your time in the spring garden as everything comes to life, be nice to mom today and do something unexpected to make her smile.
Jody Goodwin has been gardening for more than 25 years. She lives in Turner with her husband, Ike, her dog and two cats. She may be reached by writing to her in care of the Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.