A GROWING CONCERN: Plan for the whole yard with this varied list of options

APRIL MARCHES ON, and so does your garden chore list.

We’re now in the time to plant, plant, plant, but what to plant?

That’s truly the question because you are now being taunted by numerous plant outlets, so beware.

Now is not the time for summer flowers, tomatoes, geraniums, marigolds and the like. Now is the time for this diversified list for the whole yard.

1. Artichokes and cardoons: Both of these tall (3- to 6-foot) edible perennial plants have magnificent, deeply lobed, bluish pubescent leaves that make them both attractive and delicious.

Harvest heads late in the season and spray them silver and gold for a unique winter holiday arrangements.

2. Delphiniums: These plants are native to mountainous regions and thus adore our cool climate.

They are dramatic both in the garden and as cut flowers in a vase.

Delphiniums prefer moist but well-drained soil, and one should use slug bait for early spring protection.

The Magic Fountain series is medium height (18 inches) and good for windy spots, while the New Millennium Stars mix is bred for tall (4 to 5 feet), exceptional garden performance and as a cut flower.

Bellamosum is a variety that is very bushy, deep violet in color and attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds, while Pacific hybrids have long, tall flower spikes with massive 3-inch blooms.

3. Brachia: I have seen in numerous outlets plant starts of broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflowers, turnips, parsnips and bok choy.

This week is the most ideal time to plant this frost-resistant vegetable family for an early harvest.

Then plant again in June.

4. Rhododendrons and azaleas: A woody ornamental that is also native to the Peninsula.

Rhodies and azaleas are such beautiful plants, great for acidic areas by evergreens or in mulch beds.

They bloom from January through August, depending on the variety, so buy several, one for each month, and plant right now.

Vendors are flush with these items.

5. Sedums: A grouping of plants more than 2,700 strong that creep, trail, spread, hang, grow upright and both bloom and have seasonal foliage color.

Extremely drought-tolerant and heat-resistant. Think gravel and rock areas.

6. Lupines: My favorite late spring/early summer flower is the lupine because of its intense flower spikes.

Lupines come in Kodachrome colors unique to this type of plant and have interesting, deeply serrated palmate leaves.

The Gallery series is 2 to 3 feet in height and bears many 8- to 10-inch spikes on dense, compact plants.

Red Flame is a 4-foot plant that features intense carmine red blooms. Both varieties of these lupines are perfect cut flowers as well.

7. Beets, spinach, Swiss chard, greens: With the middle of April quickly approaching, your garden should be in full swing.

These cool-tolerant edible greens are available now as starters or sow seed. Either way, freshness and good health can be yours.

8. Heuchera (coral bells): This is the perennial everyone needs many varieties of precisely because of the wide range of foliage colors and combinations.

With names like lime Rickey, frosted violet, burnished bronze, stoplight, snow angel, plum pudding, raspberry ice, vivid, crimson curls, peach melba and key lime pie (to name only a few), what more need I say?

It is an evergreen perennial that adds pizzazz all year round but is most abundantly for sale now.

9. Sweet alyssum: Here is a biannual that blooms all year and reseeds itself as well.

But better yet, sweet alyssum feeds the very earliest of bees and native non-stinging wasp that prefer to lay their eggs in aphids.

Who doesn’t want an aromatic, highly prolific, bee-feeding flower around their yard that can also kill nasty bugs?

10. Carrots: Carrots adore our weather patterns and grow late into the season, then store well until next year’s early crop is in.

There are numerous types of carrots and length of time to harvest, so sow carrots now, then again after June for a double harvest or several pullings of the short-duration baby carrots.

Either way, they taste great.

11. Flowering fruit trees: First, fruit trees grow great here and in fact produce some of the best and sweetest succulent fruit in all of America.

Second, their flowers are gorgeous and accent your yard with early prolific bloom and, in the case of cherry trees, can have outstanding fall color as well.

Every plant outlet should have numerous species available now for planting.

12. Bergenia: A great perennial with big, glossy, red-veined leaves that is blooming right now and displaying pink, purple or red flowers on tall protruding stalks.

A strong presence in the perennial garden, bergenias provide for a very nice early flowering presence.

13. Pansies and violas: The more I use these plants and the new dazzling color offerings, the more I am turning from super fan to groupie.

They bloom all year and in most cases for more than a year (biannually).

Perfect as a prolific border, pansies and violas commingle with spring bulbs for a fall visual effect (ah, spring).

14. Mediterranean herbs: Let’s round off the edibles with these hardy and very drought-tolerant, rocky-soil-loving, culinary, easy-to-grow, cool-tolerant plants.

Buy now and plant lavender, rosemary, Russian sage, thyme, oregano and other hardy sages.

15. Aremeria: Aremeria or sea pink is another outstanding early March/April/May flowering perennial.

It is an excellent selection for rock gardens or as a border plant.

They have very dense balls of flowers atop grass-like foliage and come in a wide range of pastel colors.

Such a small list of plants, but well worth the effort.


Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] dailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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