April 2022

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Dear reader,
Here it is--April. And while some of you may still be experiencing below-freezing low temperatures, here in Cary, NC it seems like we might be getting past that point (insert *hahaha* here). Actually, we just never know what Mother Nature is going to do--freeze, frost, clear skies, cloudy skies, wild wind, drought, and unexpected downpours. We gardeners can be prepared as much as possible, but ultimately we have to accept the fact: We cannot control the weather. Our last hard freeze burnt my budding fringe tree and hydrangea foliage, but they are both already putting out new green growth. As they say, the show must go on.
There is a lot to do this month, both in our gardens and in other gardens. Lots of gardening chores--weeding, planting, potting on. And lots of visiting open gardens and plant sales. And signing up for an endless array of workshops.
Whatever you do this month, be sure and enjoy the process. Isn't that what gardening is all about? There is no final destination. There's just a succession of changing seasons, a turning of the wheel of the year. Soon enough, spring will turn into summer into fall into winter into spring once again. And isn't that exciting and also somewhat comforting? It certainly is to me.
See you in the garden,

I hope you find some useful information and gardening inspiration in this newsletter. Send me your gardening questions and let me know how I can help with your gardening goals and dreams. Thanks for signing up and if you've enjoyed this, please share it with friends.


I’m Doing

Shopping for plants! I made my annual early spring trip to Big Bloomers Flower Farm, a spectacular nursery and all-things-garden shop near Sanford. If you haven't been there, it is a must visit nirvana for gardeners. Greenhouse upon greenhouse upon greenhouse of rare and common plants--perennials, trees, annuals, shrubs, grasses, natives, and anything else your chlorophylled heart desires! Large selection of garden ornaments, soils, amendments... just go see for yourself. You won't be sorry. Tip: Bring a lunch. It takes a while to see everything.

Another great plant destination is Garden Treasures in Wendell. I made my first pilgrimage there last weekend. WOW!! I found a mind-boggling assortment of hard-to-find plants, AND many, many more will be available as the weather warms. I bought several cool plants including Carex 'Feather Falls' and Dryopteris wallichiana 'Jurassic Gold.' I hardily lusted after all the Japanese Maples, especially 'Allen's Gold' shown below.

I’m Visiting

North Carolina has such a diverse offering of top-notch public gardens to visit. This month I made it to two of them--North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and JC Raulston Arboretum at NCSU. Bonus: They both have daily on-site plant sales.

Other gardens to visit, upcoming workshops, tours, and events:

JCRA Home Propagation Workshop April 4-May 23

Oakwood Garden Tour April 9-10

Lasting Impressions Open Garden Art and Plant Sale April 23

Chapel Hill Garden Tour April 23-24

Plant Delights Open Days April 29-May1

NCBG Native Plant Sale May 7

Monthly Maintenance Calendar

  • Time to get summer bulbs, tubers, corms in the ground this month: glory lilies, gladiolus, calla lilies, caladiums, dahlias, crocosmias, tuberose, begonias...
  • Divide trilliums, snowdrops, and daffodils before they go dormant, or what is known as "in the green."
  • If you left hydrangea "heads' on for winter interest, it's time to clip them off.
  • Prune azaleas and other spring blossoming shrubs soon after blooming, unless they produce wanted berries in the fall.
  • Get ready to plant those containers. Remember the reliable recipe of thriller, filler, and spiller—tall specimen, mid-sized plants to fill and bulk out, and plants to spill or trail over the container edge. The choices are endless, so have fun with it! You can always edit during the season.
  • Don't let weeds get ahead of you. Stay on top of weeding, even if it's 10 minutes a day. Better yet, plant ground covers so weeds have less chance of taking hold. And mulch helps, too.
  • Wait until daffodil and other bulb foliage dies down and turns brown before removing.
  • Wait until after the last frost date in your area before planting tender perennials and annuals. Here in Cary NC, that's April 15.
  • Fertilize camellias (March, May, June).
  • Fertilize and prune azaleas after blooming. Watch for signs of lacewing or other pest damage. The NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic offers free or low-cost pest/disease identification and information. They've helped me so many times!
  • Also: Try to be ok with a little damage, especially from our native insect and animal species. Remember if your plants aren't getting nibbled, your garden isn't part of a healthy ecological cycle. Find a balance. Look for the least harmful methods when dealing with "pests."
  • Did you sow seeds? I bet some are ready for potting up. You can still sow seeds for later crops, as well.
  • Divide perennials including hostas, asters, cannas, chrysanthemums, sedum, and yarrow.
  • Direct sow nasturtium and hyacinth beans.
  • David Culp, author and garden designer in PA, suggests clipping spent daffodil flowers off so all the energy goes back into the bulb and isn't wasted on making seeds. I had never heard of this until I read it in his beautiful book A Year at Brandywine Cottage. Have you tried this?
  • If you, like me, love hellebores but have way too many seedlings sprouting everywhere, remove the entire flower stalk before those big papery seed capsules open and tumble future seedlings onto the soil. Once germinated, they're difficult to remove.

I’m Recommending

My new favorite garden tool is the GTA 26, a battery-powered Stilhl Pruner. It's the perfect size for small branches and trunks. This tool has been a literal wrist, elbow, and time saver. I don't know how I got along without it now that I've been using it for winter and spring pruning jobs. I love it! More info here.


Until Next MontUhUn...

And the spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
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