Early Spring Planting

This beautiful spring weather with all its mixed messages – winter one day, and summer the next – gets everyone’s green thumbs itching. We’ve had requests, and even a few demands!, for herbs, impatiens, and other garden annuals.
So here is our caution, frost is still probable until April 30th, and frost will kill or badly damage most plants planted now. Any garden plants we could bring in have been happily growing in greenhouses or warmer climates. To put them into our gardens now and expose them to our weather would be a bit like someone dragging you out of bed in the middle of winter, shoving you outdoors, and saying “toughen up!” – cruel and unusual punishment.
But don’t despair, just because it is too soon for most plants, doesn’t mean it is too soon for all plants. There are a few hardy souls who can happily brave this cold weather. They are the ones blooming in gardens already – bulbs, primulas, and hellebores. Hellebores and primulas will also come back year after year. Forced bulbs (the growing bulbs you can buy in spring) are less likely to come back than the bulbs you plant in autumn – but there’s still a good chance. Many patches of tulips in my garden (bright orange ones with a purple stripe, velvety black ones, and soft butter yellow ones) are from forced bulbs that I simply couldn’t resist. When it comes to plants, I am like Oscar Wilde who said, “I can resist everything except temptation.”
The nice thing about planting these early perennials is that every following spring you get the early colour you’re longing for after a monochromatic winter.
Another way to flood your garden with colour is pansies. The earliest of annuals, their big happy faces will keep blooming and blooming until the heat of summer hits. If the cold weather snaps, and we all need to bundle back up into our winter coats again, the pansies flowers will fade, but the plants wont die, and new buds will form as the sun warms them.
pansieshellebore buds

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