The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for February

Cupid is busy in February shooting his arrows of love because February has been called the month of love and Valentines.

Many receive funny cards, romantic cards, chocolates and bouquets of flowers. So what if we are to eat less sweets, go ahead and enjoy a couple pieces of candy. Many of our beds are already blooming with winter annuals such as pansies anddianthus. I use dusty miller and lamb's ears to serve as gray and pale green contrasts to the brighter colors. However most gardeners leave spaces for later additions or work around the perennials.

Now is a great time to plant a variety of spring bulbs which should be available at nurseries and garden centers in your area. The only bulbs that should not be planted are tulips and Asian lilies. The tulips must be refrigerated for at least a month to 6 weeks, and the Asian lilies need to be planted in the fall in order to bloom in late spring and early summer. Daffodils, narcissus, and paper whites are all good choices to plant this month. (All daffodils belong in the large family of Narcissus.) Sometimes I stagger the plantings from one area to another to extend the bloom. Planting a mass of daffodils creates a spectacular visual sight. Of course, you can force the paper whites indoors and plant later in the garden. Besides the bright colors, the name of the game is fragrance. If you are planting daffodils in non-gumbo soil, even the King Alfred's will return and mulitiply. I have found that Carlton, Ice Follies and Mount Hood varieties do not do well in the clay soil, multiplying and blooming like clockwork. I can attest to these since my farm which has clay soil. Beside old churches and old cemeteries, one can find old fashioned daffodils thriving and demonstrating that bulbs can have a long life span. Crocus, muscari, hyacinth, amaryllis, and crinum are just some of the other bulbs in the parade of color for the spring. So February can be the month of anticipation, waiting for the first and last bulbs to bloom.

In naturalizing bulbs in our area, we do not have to dig each hole which is a back breaking job. In mass plantings outside of the flower beds, remove grass and weeds down to the bare soil. Place the bulbs on top of the ground and cover them with good top soil to the depth of 2-3 inches. If necessary, put a light pine straw covering to prevent erosion until the bulbs roots are established and they burst into bloom. As far as fertilizers, I tend not to use bone meal because it may attract pests.

With winter soon to be over, there are some garden chores

that can be taken care of now.

1. Remove all debris such as twigs, sticks and dead plant material as insects thrive in this environment.

2. Cut back and divide perennials. In doing this, the perennials are not root bound, and voila, there suddenly are new plants.

3. Study the garden, noting what did well and what did not. Revise the old plan, adding new flowers or make a new one.

4. Browse through flower catalogs, search through garden centers and nurseries for what is needed.

5. Plant the appropriate bulbs.

6. Check garden tools, cleaning them with a light solution of Clorox, and if past their prime, purchasing new.



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