By the time February rolls around each year, there seems to be a reawakening. Bulbs shoot forth and flowering trees come out of what I term hibernation. Montgomery and the surrounding counties will soon have the appearance of a fairyland of flowers shrubs, trees and bulbs.
Pansies planted last fall will perk up and bloom along with snap dragons, and dianthus. We should be seeing evidence of poppies forming tiny gray-green clusters close to the ground. Nurseries should be stocked soon with Japanese magnolias, flowering quince, roses, wisteria, forsythia, crab apple, pittosporum and other spring bloomers. These can still be planted and will bloom in late spring. Also, it is not too late to plant daffodils. You need to make your purchases now, and plant them. Daffodils do not require much depth in planting, just about a couple of inches of soil spread over the bulb is enough. If you place them in existing beds, know that after blooming, the leaves will have to die back so that they can be nourished and thus multiply. There is a bulb fertilizer which has a main ingredient of bone meal. The down side of the bone meal is that it attract squirrels, and dogs. So, if you dig the fertilizer into the soil prior to placing the bulbs, this may thwart the animals. As an additional precaution, spread a light layer of pine straw over the location of the bulbs in order to hide them even more.
PLANT OF THE MONTH -- FLOWERING QUINCE (Chaenomeles speciosa)
Even the most hardened brown thumb will find success with this shrub. Totally indestructible is one description noted on Flowering Quince. It is the harbinger of spring and usually is in bloom after Ground Hog Day. When I tout this shrub as being something for everything and everybody, it is true. It will tolerate any soil type, sun or shade, extreme temperatures, and will thrive with neglect. This plant pairs well with daffodils and other ground covers. Also, as I am singing its praises, it makes a wonderful cut flower and can even be pruned by a chain saw and appear to never miss a beat. To propagate, in the spring, just root in water or rooting soil, and it can be divided. The intense color variety can not be beat--reds, fuchsia, pink, and two-toned variegated colors.
One easy to raise herb that has many culinary uses, remember some herbs are used purely for medicinal purposes, are Chives. A must for most herbs beds which mix well with parsley, marjoram, thyme dill and basil. The thin grass like leaves can be taken straight from the garden to pot so to speak. I use no pesticides in my gardens, so just rinsing them off and snipping into the stew, soup, sour cream for a heavenly dip, and what is better than cream cheese and chives finger sandwiches. Chives can be frozen and when thawed, taste like they have just been picked. Chives thrive in the garden setting and in pots, do great in rock gardens, and make a wonderful border plant for the flower garden. They do prefer dry soil conditions, but will tolerate some moisture. What a wonderful pass-along plant. To divide, just dig out a clump. They do multiply quite rapidly and should be thinned over the years.
GOOD GARDENING AND HAPPY MARDI GRAS