The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for April

April, one of the most glorious months of the gardening year, beckons us outside and into the garden. This clarion call should get us motivated to display the finest flower beds one can create. I am sure inspiration will come by viewing the spring time blooms on Yoshina Cherry trees. azaleas, forsythia, bridal wreath, wisteria, the subtle orange blossom scent of pittosporum, crab apple, and late blooming daffodils.

If you liked the garden plan you utilized from last year, tweak it a bit by introducing a new color scheme. For instance if you had masses of bright color, attempt a monochromatic bed. One could choose different shades of orange and yellow; red, rose and pink; shade of deep purple to light blues; or an all white and gray bed. One can also plant a pot garden with this same idea. At this time in the garden, I have masses of dianthus, gray stachys (also known as Lamb's Ears), dusty miller, and silver leafed artemisia, for contrast. By the term contrast, I am conveying the idea that one of the colors, usually dominant such as bright pink or purple, is planted next to a neutral shade to boost the stardom of the bright color. Other colors which give the same neutral boosts are whites or cream colors. This technique makes these bright colors stand out like a neon sign.

However, if your goal is to have the flowers stand out after dark, then white colors are your answer. And after years of the flowers in your garden looking the same with the same plants, in the same part of the bed, which bloom at the same time, it's time to start a new look from scratch. One can move perennials such as coreopsis or perennial salvias to another spot, add a new variety here or there, plant masses of fillers of different heights and textures around and about. (Remember there are two types of salvias; the medium height red spiked one which is an annual, and the gray green leafed which is perennial.) If you have a pot garden in the sun, you may want to try dark blue and light blue Agapanthus, which you can easily purchase from garden centers now in full bloom. Along with geraniums in bloom, and some begonias, you can have instant success.

Although flag irises are much showier, I am acquiring much appreciation for Siberian Iris, Iris Siberica. They make great cut flowers and last longer in an cut flower arrangement than other irises. They are deer and rabbit resistant and tolerate wet and dry situations. The oldest Siberian Iris is named Caesar's Brother, a brilliant purple blue bloom. They begin blooming in late spring and continue through most of the summer, if one snaps off the dead heads. These low maintenance plants have rhizomes, not bulbs, and thrive in zones 3-8. A great use for the Siberian Iris is to stabilize areas that are prone to soil erosion.They have varieties which are light blue, white, and yellow. A good yellow iris is "dreaming yellow" which is a double variety.

PLANT OF THE MONTH---Corydalis lutea

The common name is Yellow Corydalis, a cheery bloomer which thrives on neglect, and hardy in zones 5-8. It has a great mounding growth habit, with gray-green fern like leaves and gets to a height of 1-3 feet. A constant bloomer from spring through fall frost, it grows in partial sun to full shade. This is important because it is difficult to find a shade loving yellow flower. Once this plant is established, one should note that it is self sowing. Butterflies flock to Corydalis, and it is deer and rabbit resistant. I personally have not been on the look out for this flower in Montgomery, but will check with Jason Powell who owns Petals from the Past in Jemison, Alabama, right off I-65. I have grown this flower in the past, and ordered it from a catalog.



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