The Weekly Gardener 1


The Pretty Flowers of Spring

White Hyacinth

White Hyacinth

The thing about hyacinths is that they don't need special care, they need the conditions they have become accustomed to: a climate with cold winters, full sun exposure and a good soil that gets neither boggy, nor dry.

Usually the gardener picks up a bag of hyacinths in October, digs a hole four inches deep, throws in a good handful of bone meal, places the bulbs in groups of five or six and covers them up. That should do it under normal circumstances, no extra activities required, except for regular watering if fall gets exceedingly dry. Bulbs don't tolerate drought, and by the time September rolls around gardeners often forget they are still in the ground and need water.

Can you plant hyacinths in spring? I always do, because I buy them in pots sometime in February, when their beautiful fragrant flowers help chase away the winter blues. When they finish blooming, I just move them out to the garden. The cheerful specimen in the picture is an example of how well spring planted bulbs can fare.

Don't assume that because they are woodland plants they must be shade tolerant, they bloom before there are any leaves on the trees, when they benefit from full sun exposure, which is what they like. If you plant them in the shade they will slowly diminish to nothing, but first they won't bloom.

This is probably why people believe hyacinths consume themselves in flower production and need to be replaced every two or three years. Not so. This hyacinth grew to about three times its original size and blooms more abundantly with each passing year. Just plant them in full sun and give them food and water, just like you would any other full sun perennial, and they will thrive.


Very Early Violets


The blooming violets were a wonderful surprise after last week's arctic blast. They are very resilient plants, violets, a feature that delights at the beginning of spring and exasperates in the middle of summer, when they greedily take over the flower beds. They have a lot of competition this year from the much larger plants I added last fall, but they still should have plenty of space to shine, since they fill every nook and crevice when left to their own devices. To this end, they started early.

March continues its seesaw temperature pattern and the summer like conditions reverted to more seasonally appropriate weather, which means rainy and cold. Here comes April's Fool.

The spring flowers have started coming out, the clematis and the roses are sprouting leaves, the trees are in bloom, what a delightful sight! One more month, one more month...

The new perennials are on their way from the nursery, they are woodland natives for the shade, most of which I've never grown before. I feel bad that the flower beds are still covered in debris, I guess I know what is on the gardening schedule next week, unless, of course, it gets cold again.

The rugosas shook off last week's freeze like it was nothing and picked up where they left off, in fact all the roses seem to have gotten a good start this year, so I'm hoping for flowers.