The people's voice of reason

February Potpourri

The month of February reminds me of the phrase, a prelude to the future, your garden that is. With the hope of spring coming on March 22nd, we have turned the corner on winter. We can turn our dreams, hopes and wishes into realty if we start making plans now. Go out to the flower beds, and visualize your garden. This is always easy if your beds present a clean slate. After the hard freeze we had the end of January, there will be dead plant material drooping around the beds. Clean this out immediately. Hopefully with the low night time temps, many of the garden pests will be killed, but not all. There are always a few hardy ones that survive.

Which reminds me to harp again on spraying the yard, and everything in it with Volk and Lime Sulfur. When I say everything, that is exactly what I mean. Fences, trees, shrubs, grass, and other structures included. Always spray up into the trees and shrubs because the insects and other pests lay eggs or hides in these places. The winter oil, or brand name Volk Oil, smothers the eggs to prevent hatching. This not only kills white flies, but fleas and roaches as well. Peach, pear and apple trees benefit not only from the Volk Oil but also the lime sulfur destroys fungus and mildews. Lime sulfur is especially good for roses and other shrubs normally susceptible to fungus and mildew.

Planting schemes with color themes

We may want to plan a garden with tones of one color hue. I have mentioned before what a workhorse dusty miller is for the garden almost all year round. This silvery gray plant with velvet like foliage can be the perfect start of a silver and white flower color scheme. We can add white dianthus now, white Astilbe and silvery Artemesias such as Powis Castle in the spring, and then in summer, cut back the perennial Astilbe and add white Acillea, white Phlox, white Echinacea, white Begonias and white Zinnias. If you have saved Queen Ann's Lace seed, sow it now for a wonderful companion to white Zinnias for summer. For shady beds, there is always white Impatiens and begonias to fill the bill. Dusty Miller, the Artemesias and Astilbes can also tolerate shade. There that should keep you busy for at least the spring and summer planting. If you are out and about, and see another great white addition to the bed, grab it up and plant. Remember, the planting and sowing of all these flowers should be in large drifts. We do not want to be accused of our plants lining up like soldiers on parade.

Plant of the Month - ­Florist's Queen Ann's Lace---Ammi Majus Queen of Africa

This flower, an annual, is a native of North Africa and appears very similar to our native Queen Ann's Lace. It is easier to cultivate and gives a more elegant appearance. Obtain the seed from seed catalogs, and plant early before the south heats up. As wild Queen Ann's Lace was mentioned above in the white planting scheme, obtaining the Queen of Africa seed would mean that the flowers would be available for the garden this summer.



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