Getting Ready for Spring

Getting Ready for Spring
Weeks before the date of the last expected frost of spring, I’m eager to get things planting. Yet I don’t feel safe in refurbishing the landscape with new bedding plants and the like. The solution is get all the windowboxes and containers ready to go. Then, they stay on the porch where they’re safe from late frosts.

So many kinds of flowers are suitable for cool spring weather that I find it hard to choose. I especially like to use these in container gardens. Here are some of the ones I use in my pots for early spring.

Go where my nose takes me, and I can’t go wrong. A number of spring blooming annuals are sweetly fragrant. Among these are sweet alyssum, some snapdragons, sweet peas, and stock.

Cupid sweet pea is so dwarf and neat looking. It is perfect for containers. The pastel pink flowers are such a treat.

Once I learned nemesia was fragrant, I knew I wanted to try Joan Wilder nemesia. This elegant trailing plant has pink blooms with yellow centers. Innocence has white, snapdragon-like flowers with yellow centers. These are very easy to grow.

In the past, several cool season flowers have been biennials. This means they’ll bloom the second year. I’m thrilled to learn about the relatively new annual-flowering sweet William. It joins the annual wallflower (Cheiranthus).

For cool season hanging baskets, look for the trailing snapdragons. My favorite is the white flowering Luminaire series. It is available in at least five colors, including deep purple and purple with gold.

Some other great cold-tolerant annuals include ones that aren’t very common like painted tongue (Salpliglossis). If you’re planting painted tongue, try and do it before the plants begin to flower. They don’t transplant as well later. Painted tongue blossoms are like petunias. The bicolor ones are especially nice. Contrasting colors splash on the throats and centers of the petals. I particularly like Royale Purple Bicolour painted tongue.

Other suitable cool season annuals for spring are primrose, pansies, violets, diascia, pot marigold (Calendula), annual candytuft, cornflower, and cyclamen.

Once I’ve finally decided what kind of plants I want in my pots, I’m ready for the next step. That involves making a list of the ones I’ll buy as bedding plants in plastic packs, and which ones I will grow from seed.
Several of these are very easy from seeds, and are suitable for beginning gardeners. Sweet alyssum, lobelia, annual larkspur, pot marigold, cornflower, and sweet pea are easy from seed. Some of the other ones like primroses may not bloom for months.

Of the books on container gardens, you won’t go wrong if you choose “Container Gardens By Number” by Bob Purnell from Reader’s Digest. This reader-friendly title has fifty fool-proof container gardens that will bring your home and garden to life. This informative, helpful title features ideas and planting plans for every kind of situation. The containers range from ordinary pots and troughs to window boxes and hanging baskets. Each of these theme-based gardens makes gardening so easy. There are ideas for every season of the year, including winter. It has step-by-step instructions with planting plans and profiles of the individual plants. In the introduction, the author gives helpful information on choosing your containers and plants, the planting process, and how to care for the completed gardens.

The most comprehensive guide to container gardening by far is “The
Complete Container Garden” by David Joyce. Also from Reader’s Digest, this is suitable for both experienced and novice gardeners. If you’re passionate about theme gardens, this is the title for you. There are more ideas here than you could ever possibly use. The projects include ones with different color schemes and styles appropriate for different garden styles as well as for various seasons. Some focus specifically on the beauty of foliage. There is a comprehensive directory of plants by color of flower or foliage, edible feature, and other attributes. The author provides all the details on choosing containers and plants, planting, plant care, training, and pruning.

“Containers-Simple Projects for the Weekend Gardener” by George Carter was published by Ryland, Peters & Small. This well-organized, reader-friendly book features twenty inspirational projects with complete color-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for each. There are ideas for the four seasons along with profiles of the plants, and proper care of the completed container gardens. The author features sections for four different kinds of containers—wood, metal, terra cotta, and masonry.

Greet spring by planting some fragrant sweet peas and other cold-tolerant annuals.

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