“Trumpets” announce arrival of spring

            The “trumpeters” of the spring plant world are in full color and hitting their bright colored notes to announce the arrival of spring. With the very cold and icy weather in January and early February we were running behind schedule heading to spring but now with two weeks of gorgeous above normal temperatures and hardly dropping to freezing temperatures the tables have turned and we are now ahead of schedule as we approach spring. The spring flowering bulbs like crocus provided the first trumpets of spring and are now joined by the lovely narcissus or daffodils. The daffodils do the best job of the spring flowering bulbs of naturalizing here and coming back year after year. Few bulbs create the impact of a bed of daffodils or the artistic statement of a wandering row or scattered sprinkle of bright yellow daffodils like the fun new plantings of over 50,000 daffodils in the medians of Warr Acres along Northwest 39th, Northwest Highway and along North McArthur. The flowering shrubs start with the yellow forsythia in lead trumpet position followed by the orange and red flowering quince and the elegant white spirea. I also get a kick out of these flowering shrubs and flowering trees that produce such bold and colorful flowers before they even produce any leaves or foliage so the flowers really trumpet spring even before the plants leaf out. These spring flowers are produced on old wood using sugars and food the plant has stored up all winter to produce these spring flowerworks, the plant world version of fireworks. The good news is that the ever changing spring flower show lasts for weeks instead of seconds. The flowering trees are led into flower by the flowering crabapples, apricot fruit trees and Bradford pears and these are soon followed by the redbuds and peach trees. I love to enjoy these early bursts of spring flowers while walking through the neighborhood or driving to appointments. Like most folks I get serious spring fever after being cooped up inside more during the dark and cold winter and really cherish the nicer spring weather, longer days, brighter sun and the early spring flowers. If you haven’t added some of the spring “trumpeter” flowers, shrubs and trees to your landscape you may want to add some now so you can enjoy this show in your own yard in the future.

            The old timers used to schedule to get their potatoes planted by that great Irish holiday of Saint Patricks Day that happens this weekend and indeed we are nearing the end of the prime planting season for potatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli and most of the cool season vegetables. Even though we have really warmed up it is still too early to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons and other warm season vegetables. The safe plan is to plant most of these crops in mid April or later after our last average frost date. If you choose to plant these warm season vegetables early be prepared with wax paper hot kaps, the amazing wall of water, European cloches or some type of fabric protection to put around the early plantings on cold nights to provide a little extra frost protection.

            Now is the best time to prune back your rose bushes to remove old deadwood and encourage strong new canes as they leaf out for spring. This is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and cool season annuals. You should still wait to buy and plant warm season annuals until mid April or after we get past the risk of freezing. This is a wonderful time to prepare your soil in flowerbeds and container gardens to be ready to plant after we get past those freezes.

Time is running out to apply a pre-emergent weed killer or weed and feed product to your lawn. There are many good pre-emergents to control crabgrass and summer weeds and they need to be applied before the crabgrass or weed seeds germinate in order to prevent their germination. My favorite products for this weed killing mission include those that contain Barricade, Sulfentrazone or Dimension. The only one that also has some post emergent effect is Dimension so if you wait more than another seven to ten days to apply the weed and feed product you probably should use a product with Dimension because it acts as both a pre-emergent and will kill crabgrass for the first four weeks after it has germinated. Make sure to water in any of these products after application for best results. There are some different formulations of Dimension that can even be used in your flowerbeds or around trees and shrubs to control weeds around ornamentals as long as you don’t plan to sow flower or vegetable seeds in those areas this spring. Make some time to get outside and enjoy the “trumpet” flowers announcing spring and have fun planting in your garden.

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