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Spring is Here!

Spring on the Front Range sometimes means we get to wear shorts one day and then we have a blizzard the next! I do hope you had a good winter and have been able to enjoy the spring sunshine when it appears. 

While the Patio Plants spring planting service for container gardens won’t begin until May, but now is a good time to do some planning! If you’re considering rearranging or adding to your container gardens, I have a small inventory of glazed ceramic pottery which could fit your needs. If your drip irrigation system needs repair or amending, it’s good to get that done before the plants arrive. Let me know if I can help you either way.

If you just can't stand to wait until May (spring fever can be tough!), I can fill a pot or two with pansies and other cold-tolerant flowers for you. Call me (970-988-3808) or e-mail me to get that set up.

I continue to offer Landscape Design Services specifically for the do-it-yourself homeowner. Save money by doing the work yourself and enjoy that sense of accomplishment that comes from a job well done. Contact me to get your plan started!

One final reminder, I still pay for referrals! Refer a friend to Patio Plants Unlimited or for a Landscape Design and receive a  $25 discount or nursery gift card.

2016 Newsletter Topic

This year, I’ll be writing about my favorite subject: PLANTS! Each month I’ll feature an annual, perennial and flowering shrub which will be flowering during that month.

Get to Know These Plants

Pansies / Viola

There are at least 500 species of Violas commonly known as Pansies, Violets, or Violas. Pansies are technically Viola x wittrockiana and are distinguished from other Violets by their large flowers which can be 2½” to 4” in diameter. All Viola flowers have 5 petals: one that forms the lower “lip” and 4 in a fan above. Pansy flowers are often bi-colored which forms a smiling face on the flower. As an idiom, we may call someone a “Pansy” which means they can’t take the heat. Indeed, Pansies wither and collapse in the heat of summer but they are very cold tolerant, even rebuffing temperatures well below freezing.  Violas bloom in early spring and again in the fall and do well in containers and in the garden. The plants themselves are short-lived, but in the garden they often reseed prolifically.

Lenten Rose / Helleborus

Aptly called the “Lenten Rose,” Helleborus bloom in late winter/early spring often appearing as early as March (during the church season of Lent). The blossoms hang down as if they are in prayer and when there is rain or melting snow, the flowers appear to be crying. Each blossom is 2” - 3” in diameter and the following seed-head is an attractive puff. Helleborus need consistently moist soil and partial shade. Finding a good microclimate, perhaps under a large deciduous tree, is required. The plant itself grows in a clump spreading 18”-24” and reaching just 18” tall. Helleborus are poisonous, especially the root which in medieval times was used as a medicine against intestinal worms (it causes vomiting, among other symptoms). The foliage reportedly has a very bitter flavor which discourages both humans and animals from eating it. Hellebore poisoning is very rare; however, the plants frequently cause skin irritation. Always wear gloves when handling Lenten Rose.

Forsythia / Forsythia x intermedia

The bright, yellow flowers of Forsythia feel like a harbinger of spring and completely cover this shrub in late March/early April. Its growth habit is upright but somewhat unruly, growing up to 8-10 feet tall and wide. The flowers appear on “old wood” (last season’s growth) so Forsythia should be pruned or thinned right after blooming to maximize the following year’s flowers. Forsythia does not do well when sheared, so it is best planted at the back of the border or in an informal garden. Flower buds are sometimes destroyed by extreme winter temperatures or late spring frosts. When this happens, the spring show is disappointing but the plant itself is unharmed. Forsythia branches can be “forced” to bloom inside. Simply cut the branch when the flower buds are swollen and place the cut end immediately in a vase of water. Within a few days, the flowers will open and you can enjoy them inside as a cut flower for 10-14 days.
Ever wonder where I get my information? Here's my resources:
  • Armitage, Allan M. Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Second Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing LLC, 1997.
  • Crockett, James Underwood. Annuals. New York: Time-Life, 1971. Print.
  • Ellis, Barbara W. Taylor's Guide to Annuals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.
  • Flint, Harrison L. Ortho's All about Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Des Moines, IA: Meredith, 2002. Print.
  • Gordon, DeWolf P., Jr. Ph.D., et al. Taylor's Guide to Perennials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Print.
  • Hessayon, D. G. The New Bedding Plant Expert. London: Expert, 1996. Print.
  • Hughes, Megan McConnell, et al. Better Homes and Gardens® Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
  • Peschke, Donald B., Publisher. 108 easy-going, easy-growing flowers!, a supplemental to Garden Gate magazine. Des Moines, Iowa: August Home Publishing Company. 2006.
  • Whiting, David, et al. "Pruning Flowering Shrubs, CMG GardenNotes #619." Colorado Master Gardener GardenNotes. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Extension, 2011. Print & Online.
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