We have often heard that April showers bring May flowers and this proverb should hold true for us since there has been plenty of rain. I also hope that each of you have experienced a wonderful Easter time with much joy now and in the future.
It is amazing how this cool, cool weather lengthened the life of pansies, snaps, geraniums, petunias, and spring blooming shrubs. In past years, I would be pulling out these flowers and would be planting for summer. Now, I will not replant until sometime in late May. I observed while on a trip a wonderful idea to fill large spaces in the beds with very few plants. The gardener has used bright annuals as ground covers. I will plant several varieties of spreading petunias and verbena. 'Purple Wave' petunias or other cascading ones such as 'Rose Wave', 'Pink Wave' and 'Misty Lilac' planted in large drifts or mixed together could be a stunning sight. A good variety of spreading verbena is the Tapien hybrids. Be sure they are in a sunny spot, well drained and watered. Each petunia plant can cover at least 2 square feet, so plant and watch the magic begin.
A couple of months ago, I wrote on the subject of ground covers. I want to add the clematis vine to the list. Many varieties will do just as well running along the ground as climbing a trellis.
And incidentally, make a shrub into a trellis for an uplifting effect. It is suggested the summer-blooming types are the best candidates for this innovative use. Choose plants from the Viticella group since they have smaller blooms and bloom profusely. These come in a myriad of colors from white, purple, red, blue and white with purple veins. The Jackman clematis (Clematis X jackmanii) is also a good choice, but has bigger blooms. Most varieties are very hardy and disease resistant. Just do not cut the dead looking stems back in the spring as they will put out from these seemingly brown dead stems. Clematis is a long lived perennial which has been overlooked by many Southern gardeners. I have had about 4 varieties which have reliably returned for about 6 years and they are blooming their heads off today.
PLANT OF THE MONTH- Azaleas
Azaleas (classified as members of the rhododendron genus) are symbols of the deep South. There are so many cultivars and hybrids, it would be difficult to give a number. A member of the honey suckle family, the deciduous varieties, which loose their leaves in the winter, can be seen in the wild in deep forests. Now this type is available at some nurseries and are very fragrant. The most common Azalea is the Indica which reaches heights as tall as a house. Mobile is famous for its Azalea Trail and tourists drive the mapped out areas to see a spectacular sight. Even though they only bloom 2-3 weeks, these evergreen shrubs are attractive for the other 50 weeks of the year. They can not tolerate alkaline soil, but prefer a neutral to slightly acid soil.