Dealing With the Ups and Downs of Our Weather
It is not easy to do spring gardening when it is 82 one day and 25 the very next night. Such has been our fate this winter and spring. If you have, like me, had quite few things “nipped” by the recent freeze, fear not, Just cut off the dead stuff and the plant will re- sprout. Even some of my toughest plants were affected by this topsy turvy weather. If we were confused by going from shorts and t shirts to a sweater or jacket, think of how our shrubs and perennials felt!
Cold weather doe not seem to affect bulbs though and mine made it through just fine and I had some interesting species tulips that bloomed quite early. Species tulips are as close to the original bulb found in Turkey as it can be. They are tougher than the hybridized tulips from Holland. They are smaller and more delicate looking, but unlike the hybrids, they will come back next year.
You probably will have noticed that the cost of plants has gone up this year due to fuel and transportation costs. One nice way around this is to plant seeds. Wait until the night temperatures are consistently above 50 for best germination. The Orlaya grandiflora that I planted last Fall are up and blooming as well as my Sweet Peas (Latyrus odorata). They like the cold temps and fall planting is best. I experimented with Borage this year and planted it last fall with great results. Borage is sometimes considered an herb with leaves that taste like cucumber. The Brits use it in Pimm’s Cup, a summer cocktail. I love the flowers and so do the bees.
My Passionflower vine wintered over along with Gulf Fritillary caterpillars and I already have butterflies as well as many chrysalis.
When it warms up, I am planting Ageratum. I was not enamored with that annual because it was so over used in the last century. It was the standard bedding plant and you saw it along with annual red Salvia at the entrance to every mall and shopping center. The new improved Ageratum is much taller and really has lovely fuzzy blue flowers. There is a native Ageratum here that I rescued from death on the golf course and it is equally beautiful and reseeds very well.
And of course, I am planting Tithonia or Mexican sunflower. If you have room to only plant one thing for pollinators, make it this plant. It grows quite tall and might flop over, but you will have butterflies practically fighting over it. It also makes a very nice cut flower.
Don’t forget Zinnias. I know that they are considered common, but you can get many sizes and colors now. They really add a ping to your garden and again, they are a great pollinator plant.
I am trying something for fun and will let you know if it works out – Money Plant (Lunaria annua) I remember this plant from my childhood. It is a biennial so it will not bloom this year, but next year I should have those coin shaped silver seed heads and hopefully it will reseed for years to come.
So, keep a weather eye on the temperatures and try a packet of seeds. For a small amount of money, you can fill your garden with flowers and many will reseed every year.