Spring will spring soon

hodges_0310“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anais Nin

Although Nin may have been referring to something more elusive, to winter-weary Lowcountry gardeners it means that spring is about to put in its long anticipated appearance. Following a cruel and damaging winter, forsythia, spiraea, azaleas and cherry blossoms are the first garden plants to take the risk of blossoming.

But even before that, the observant eye will have noticed the brilliant sprays of native Carolina yellow jessamine, (not jasmine), scrambling among the tree tops along the roads and highways. Also, a faint blush is visible in the top branches of Acer rubrum, the native red maple, as it puts out small rosy red flowers among stark and leafless branches. Marsh grass subtly drifts from straw to tender green tips. Then, we know that spring will come again.

But Punxsutawney Phil notwithstanding, remember that the average last day of frost here is March 15 and since that is not too far away, spend the next two weeks getting your garden space ready for the glorious transformation that we all hope to achieve. Have someone dig or till your hopelessly hard packed soil and incorporate into it the compost you have been nurturing all winter. No compost? Sorry, you will have to buy some. It is a necessary element and cannot be neglected. If you have been adding compost all winter, which is doubtful, just add more. This is the hard part, but once accomplished, the fun begins.

Plant societies, mentioned herein last month, plus catalogues, promise an embarrassment of riches in their claims and promotions of new plant varieties and new forms and colors of old varieties. There should be enough choices to please the most discerning gardener. Soon they will be appearing in local nurseries to tempt us. And so begins the gardening year.

Choices from Athens Select are again recommended on the basis of their source, raised and evaluated in proving grounds at the University of Georgia in Athens. “Super” is the new catchword as in Supertunias, particularly a uniquely patterned one called Pretty Much Picasso. Then there are Superbenas, a hybrid verbena, available in several gorgeous colors. Superbells offers a new range of colors in calibrachoa, a wonderful container plant. Bacopa, (now called sutera), a good early spring plant that was formerly white only, is available in pastel shades. And diascia, another spring bloomer, can be had in brilliant orange, Flirtation Orange. The dependable coneflower or echinacea contributes Flame Thrower with rays of blazing yellow-orange.

Hydrangea Invincibelle Spirit is a new pink, following the popular Endless Summer. Admittedly there is difficulty maintaining the pink hue in our relatively acid soil, but no one ever claimed gardening was not a challenge!
This is merely the tip of the iceberg. Go see for yourself!