Spring has arrived, and we are all basking in the beauty of the blooms and the lush green that surrounds us. The longer days and warmer weather tempt adults and children alike to come outdoors and play. Your lawns and gardens are beckoning to you to come dig in the dirt, tidy up and be creative. For the skilled gardener to the amateur, there are a few simple tips you can follow to achieve a respectable landscape that you, and your much appreciative neighbors, will enjoy.
Begin the season by inspecting, cleaning, sharpening, repairing, replacing and organizing your tools. That way you are ready to plant at a moment’s notice. As you begin the planting process, some wonderful advice I have been given is to fight the urge to run out and buy large amounts of colorful annuals all at once. While it is difficult to choose from the rainbow that is offered, you must restrain yourself.
Step away and remind yourself you can always come back for more later. If you are overzealous, you may run out of steam before you have completed your work and not complete the job at all. Also, it is much better to stage your efforts in order to give the new additions a chance to become established first. You want to wait until your perennials have started to grow before bringing in new plants.
Prune spring flowering shrubs soon after they finish flowering, but only if they need it. Try to follow the taller branches down into the shrub and cut just above the joint. Cut back any woody perennials that need it, as well. If this is done before the danger of frost has passed, new growth may appear and a freeze can kill that new growth and even the entire plant. Observe the “Rule of May,” which is to prune plants that bloom before May after they bloom, and prune plants that bloom after May the following February.
Spring is a good time to freshen up the mulch in your landscape. When spreading mulch you don’t want to lay it too thick or too thin, about two to three inches thick is best.
When it comes to what to choose to plant, you can always consult your local nursery or a friend that is knowledgeable in this area. Some plants are easier to manage than others. You may want to plant Asclepius (butterfly weed), parsley, dill, rue or pipevine to encourage butterflies to visit your garden. The foliage in these plants provide food for caterpillars. You can plant seeds for flowering annuals, vegetables and herbs as well. Some easy flowers to grow from seed are marigold, zinnia, sunflowers and cosmos. Beans, peas, dill, basil and cilantro are easily grown from seed as well.
It would serve you well to remember that since we have Prentice Cooper State Park in our backyards, we are “blessed” with a large, hungry deer population that is not against dining in your backyard. Often hydrangeas, day lily blooms, hostas and most everything that flowers are eaten. The deer also really love those extravagant container displays that you spent your well-earned money on. I was warned that most interventions only work temporarily and need to be rotated, and that the best chance for success is to use tomato cages and netting around smaller, more vulnerable plants. Ann Richey from the Signal Mountain Garden Club states, “When you have a woodland garden, you get nature’s gift of wildlife!”
As with my article containing gardening tips this past Fall, I reached out to the kind women of the Signal Mountain Garden Club, and they were so generous to share their knowledge. The club is a 95-year-old organization with the following objectives: To promote an interest in gardens, their design, management and culture; to cooperate in the protection of wildflowers, native plants and trees; to study and protect birds; to encourage civic improvement; and to enhance the scenic grandeur and historic interest of Signal Mountain.
As you can see, the club offers a variety of interest and opportunities. It has held numerous programs regarding pollinators’ habitats, and a large number of the members are planting their landscapes to conscientiously address these specific needs. The club operates under the guidelines of the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs and National Garden Club. Persons eligible for active membership must be residents of Signal Mountain and be proposed by a member.
The club has been recognized as a Club of Excellence, which requires each member to participate in many volunteer, community activities. One example is the upcoming District III Standard Flower Show, A Tribute to the Red, White and Blue. It will take place Friday, May 20, from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, May 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. It is free and open to the public.
I want to sincerely thank the women of the Garden Club, especially Ann Leonard, Ann Richey, Bonnie Maddux and Linda Davenport, for sharing their expertise. I am blessed to have a mother and sisters who are skilled gardeners, but I am very much a work in progress. I certainly appreciate the tips and advice these women provided me as well as all they do as a club for our community. This is such a lovely time of year so I hope this information will encourage and inspire you to venture out into your own lawns and gardens, enjoy nature and have some fun.