March is the month I describe as the front door to spring.With the winter blues and the unusually cold season, I am definitely ready for the crisp, cool and clear days just ahead. Have you heard someone tell you, in a somewhat dismissive manner, to go fly a kite? Well, we should all heed the suggestion as I have read that this sport can relieve anxiety and stress. The art of flying kites harkens back to early civilizations, China being one. If we really think of the aerodynamics of thrust and lift which gets the kite off the ground and soaring in the air, this physic lesson is how man learned to fly airplanes. So if you want to relieve stress and anxiety, go fly a kite or get your hands in the dirt and do a little gardening, since some of the kite flying benefits are the same.
Speaking of dirt, good garden soil along with proper hydration, and light are the keys to successful flower beds.
March is the perfect month to add organic material along with an acid neutral sterile soil, which can be purchased at garden centers. No need to work it into the old soil, just lay a top dressing over the cleared beds about one to two inches thick, and voila, healthier, and hardier flowers. Remember, a healthy plant mimics a healthy person, less disease and better performance.
One topic which does not receive much attention is ground covers. Not only do they serve in holding back erosion such as Kudzu, which I do not suggest you introduce into your yard, but they are prized for their beauty and simplicity of a mass planting. Mass plantings have superb visual effects and creates a special symmetry that is difficult to achieve with other plant material. The effects also include the use of the myriad of leaf sizes and shapes, the coloration varieties, the textures, and the heights. I have witnessed the arresting show of vinca minor,( periwinkle), covering the side of a drainage ditch, in full bloom. To get started, notice what kind of traffic if will receive before planting, the drainage, and analyze the sun exposure. Also read the labels about the height, growth habits and other environmental factors to ensure future success.
Maintenance of the ground covers should include the caveat that we have yet to uncover a "no maintenance" plant. The first year of the planting is probably the most critical. Watering should be deep watering, which allows the roots to develop below the surface and enhancing establishment of the plants. Deep watering also greatly benefits spreading of the plant on the surface. Isn't this the point, to cover the ground? When setting out the plants, stagger the rows, especially on slopes, to prevent erosion of the soil. For weed control, mulch before planting so assist in weed control.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
Vinca Minor, or Periwinkle, is easy to grow and spreads easily. With blue to pale violet flowers in the spring, it is non-climbing and is also a rapid grower. Another attribute we attribute to Periwinkle is the ability to thrive under trees and on steep banks. Its wide spreading roots run along the ground, and for this reason, it is easy to pull up and to control.