Spring is one of the best times to be out in the garden. After winter's gray days, the brightness of the sun and the flowers lift the spirits and make it easy to feel enthusiastic about new projects outside. There's plenty to do, of course, both in caring for existing plants and planting new ones, but don't forget to take time to just walk around and enjoy the flowers.
Care And Upkeep
Do a thorough clean up before your perennials break dormancy in early spring to avoid stepping on the new shoots. Rake up leaves and fallen branches, weed and trim the edges of your beds.
As the daffodils, hellebores, peonies and other bulbs and perennials shoot up, give them an application of 10-10-10 fertilizer. This will nourish the new growth as well as giving strong roots, stems and flowers.
Perennials with evergreen leaves, such as hellebores and epimediums, need the old leaves cut down before the new leaves and flowers appear. They add a welcome presence to the winter garden, but look ragged later on.
The earliest flowering shrubs such as forsythia and flowering quince should be pruned immediately after flowering to control their size and make them more bushy. Roses and other shrubs that bloom on the new shoots later in the year need pruning, too, usually before they leaf out in early spring. Cut the tips off extra long shoots to encourage them to branch and remove any weak or diseased wood.
Spring is a great time to sow seeds of hardy annuals, the plants that sprout in cool soil such as baby blue eyes, Calendulas, Nigella and California poppies. You can have a square yard or two of flowers for the price of a packet of seeds and they can act as fillers between clumps of daylilies and other perennials.
Dividing And Transplanting
Cool spring weather is an excellent time to transplant any rose or perennial to a new bed, giving it time to replace lost roots before the weather warms up. A dose of starter solution containing vitamin B1 will help regrow roots quickly.
It's also a good time to divide most perennials into three or more sections, giving you new plants for free. Look for the growing points, called crowns, at the top of the soil and pull or cut these apart. Consult a gardening encyclopedia for info on each kind of plant and how best to divide it.
Planting New Flowers
Spring is the time to search for cool season perennials in the nurseries. You can create large pots of bloom for a front entry, adding summer annuals later, or you can use a group of pots, moving each to an out of the way place when it's done flowering.
Be sure to mulch your new flowers to keep the soil cool, suppress weeds and hold moisture. Remember, though, that summer annuals dislike cool soil so leave spaces of bare soil to warm up for them.