Gardening season heating up

Learning to grow the Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’ tree

Do you need a good cry in the spring, perhaps have allergies and are short of hankies? Go to Cottonwood Ave. and Eagle St. in Harrison and see all the “hankie” blossoms on a tree that one could ever imagine. This beautiful Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’ tree is draped in early spring with 7 inch long white bracts that surround a ball of tiny dark red flowers. Understandably, the common names of ‘dove tree’ and ‘handkerchief tree’ are well suited for this tree that will grow 15 ft. (4.57 m.) in zones 6-8. If grown from seed, it will take approximately 8-10 years to blossom.

Bedding plants are being sold now and it is so temping to set them out because we have had some warm days. The May Long Weekend is traditionally the time to plant them, or when night temperatures are above 10*C. Real heat loving plants like tomatoes, cukes and peppers should wait to be planted out in late May or early June. Prune rhodos, azaleas and camellias after blooming and fertilize to help ‘bud-set’ for next year. Aphids are getting an early start this year on roses. Hose them off with a strong spray of water. Army cutworms are chewing our clematis off, up 5 feet high at night. Yes, these cutworms climb! They lay on top of the soil near their victim or under nearby foliage during the day waiting for me to destroy them.

 

Questions and Answers

We are planning to move to the Agassiz-Harrison area and I’m wondering if our pots of fatsia japonica will survive there.

Fatsia japonica, also known as Japanese aralia, has dark green deeply lobed leaves, produces white flowers in the fall and can be grown in hardiness zone 7-11. Since you have been growing them in pots for some time you already know that they thrive in compost-rich, slightly acidic soil that should be kept moist at all times. Renewal pruning should be done either by cutting the plant to the ground before new growth begins in the spring or removing one-third of the oldest stems each year for three years. If the pots are placed in a protected area out of the wind and in the shade, the plants should thrive in this area.

I see the word ‘herbaceous’ in garden articles. What does it mean?

Herbaceous plants are plants with non-woody stems. Their above-ground growth largely or totally dies back in winter, but may have underground plant parts that survive.

We recently purchased a home that has an over-grown garden. How do I go about making it tidy without spending a ton of money?

First remove the weeds, tidy the lawn and try to identify the plants that are there. Often a neighbour will know the names or take cuttings to a greenhouse for identification. Waiting until a plant flowers will often help in making the decision about keeping or discarding. If it is a flowering plant it should be pruned after flowering. How hard it can be pruned depends on the plant. Some plants such as heathers and other evergreens will not recover new growth and should be removed. Bare spaces can be filled with perennials and annuals grown from seed until you have had time to assess the garden and the growing conditions of that area.

Gardening questions can be answered by sending them to news@ahobserver.com