Spring is busting out all over.

Are you feeling homebound after the edict by our Governor to stay home? Here is something that will help reduce your anxiety level and deal with the threat posed by the Coronavirus. Enjoy some gardening which is a well-known stress reducer. I have not been feeling anxious about the virus because I have been busy gardening.  Last year we installed a new septic tank and as a result there was a lot of lawn missing and the old lawn was a bit spotty.  Last week we had sod installed in our back yard so now we have a new green lawn that makes our landscape beautiful and complete. We also added 12 yards of mulch to the vegetable garden and orchard areas after putting down landscape fabric. This will keep the weeds at bay and make gardening much easier.

It is a joy to see so many blooming flowers this time of year. Many trees are blooming; tulip trees, Bradford pears, flowering plum and lots of Western and Eastern redbuds. Last year I removed a sweetgum (Liquidamber styracciflua) from my landscape as the gumballs it dropped were such a nuisance and the tree was not well developed. Although there is now a sweetgum that has been bred that doesn’t produce gumballs, I decided that I would replace that tree with two redbuds.

Freesias are a cheerful spring container bulb.

I have missed the redbuds at my previous home, Redbud Farm, where there were 13 large Eastern redbuds in the landscape. Hence I purchased and planted two grafted redbuds that are ‘Appalachian Red’ cultivars of Cercis Canadensis. ‘Appalachian Red’ has blooms of a deep pink tone than the usual lighter pink of redbuds. They came as very small trees, but I hope they will grow quickly to provide shade and blooms.

Spring is a good time to take stock of your landscape and see what you might have room to add to it for spring enjoyment. With the coronavirus keeping us all at home it is not a shortage of time that would keep us from doing this. Do you have a few blank spots?  Are there some tired plants that could be replaced? I decided that one thing I am missing that I used to enjoy are peonies, so I am thinking about finding room to fit one or two into my landscape. I don’t have a lot of room, because I bought my new home from a fellow Master Gardener who had done a great job of landscaping. It is positively beautiful and is one of the many features we enjoy at our new home.

In the front yard, there is a mostly native plant garden and the two backyard borders feature roses, a lilac, Azaleas, Narcissus, Chinese ground orchid (Bletilla striata), three Chinese fringe bushes (Lorapetalum Chinensis), several daylilies and lots of white flowers: Cala Lilies, (Zantedeschia aethiopica), Candytuft (Iberis semperiverns), an unnamed white Camellia, several white Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis), and two Spirea shrubs in full bloom. If you have Spirea it is good to prune them after they bloom to keep them healthy and to foster new growth for next year’s blooms. Spirea bloom on new wood so rejuvenating the plant by pruning will keep them blooming fully.

There are also three bluebell varieties in the border and I had a devil of a time figuring out what they were. There are a lot of plants named bluebells and they are in disparate genera. One is the Portuguese squill (Scylla Peruviana). Here is a little garden trivia for you. It is a native of the Western Mediterranean but was named Peruviana because Peru was the name of the ship that brought the specimen to the taxonomist but the ship was not from Peru as it turns out. After a lot of studying on my computer, I identified the two other bluebells as Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica).

 I also planted about 300 Narcissus in the last two years and have enjoyed their blooms this spring. I also have 5 pots full of Freesias and I don’t know how or why I have so many, but I am enjoying all the color they bring to my deck this spring. Another garden activity might be to consider planting containers of herbs that you need for your summer cuisine or what flowers you want to foster for summer blooms. I have already planted parsley, culinary sage and basil in containers. I have also been planting gladiolus in a raised bed for early summer bouquets.

Other garden activities may soon include planting tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, beans, melons, corn, and annual flowers like zinnias, marigolds and chrysanthemums. Enjoy being homebound, plan for ever more beautiful gardens and stay healthy.

 If you have a gardening related question you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website:  http://sjmastergardeners.ucanr.edu/CONTACT_US/.

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