A GROWING CONCERN: Be a smart spring garden shopper

Tomorrow is Easter, and it is not the symbolism of rebirth and resurrection, but death and destruction that is yours for sure if you buy botanical wonders the likes of begonias, marigolds, geraniums, salvia, tomatoes, peppers, squash and impatients too early. Many plant outlets are doing a horrible service by selling these now!

So here is a baker’s dozen of flowering botanical wonders to bring new life to your yard and garden, all of which are ready, abundant and ideal to plant in early to mid-April and beyond.

1. 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 (bi-annually).

Perfect as a prolific border, pansies and violas co-mingle spring bulbs for a fall visual effect (ah … spring).

2. Sweet alyssum. Here is another biannual that blooms all year and reseeds itself as well. But better yet, sweet alyssum feeds the very earliest of bees and a native non-stinging wasp that prefers to lay its eggs in aphids.

Who doesn’t want an aromatic, highly prolific, bee-feeding flower around their yard?

3. Trailing lobelia. Without question, these are one of my all-time favorite blooming annuals precisely because of how floribundant this plant is.

It has a super victorian effect because of its dainty multi-flowered effect. It is available in a multitude of colors.

4. Snapdragons. Everyone can grow florist-quality cut snapdragons in their garden by getting either the Madame Butterfly or ideally the Rocket series.

These plants adore our cool spring, cool falls and cool summer evenings.

5. Dusty Miller and artemisia. I call these the highlighters because of the intense, pure white color that is produced by pubescence or little white hairs on their leaves. Pure, intense clumps of white make your other flowers colors stand in stark contrast to these plants. So why not highlight your garden?

6. Peas. I will find any excuse to sow sweet peas and edible peas, but only because we are the best place in all of North America to do so. With beautifully scented cut flowers and outrageously nutritious food from a trellis tacked up somewhere, who wouldn’t want these plants?

7. Bracchia. I have seen in numerous outlets plant starts of broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, 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.

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

Buy now and plant lavender, rosemary, Russian sage, thyme and oregano. These plants look marvelous and taste even better.

9. Columbine/delphinium/lupine. The terrific trio, as I like to call them. All three are indigenous to our Peninsula and so are perfect for your yard. These extremely hardy plants will bloom year after year from April through June and are everywhere.

10. Creeping flax, rock cress, perennial alyssum. Another trifecta when it comes to creeping over the rock wall, hanging perennials.

Again, these three are available in greenhouses and nurseries now, ready and able to be planted, and will give you a beautiful terraced floribunda look.

11. 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 resistance — think gravel and rock areas.

12. Erysimum. Here is a new plant I have been playing with, and for a perennial, it has a very impressive year-long bloom capability on the Peninsula. Nice, colorful flowers on upright flower stalks, erysimum is an attention-getter with interesting foliage.

13. Rhododendrons and azaleas. Let us finish with 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 in these items.

Have fun shopping, happy Easter and … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and 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 news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

More in Life

A GROWING CONCERN: Master the art of watering

MY DEAR, DEAR friend Edna asked me to do an article on… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Hurry there on foot! Get healed!

MARK 6:30-34, 53-56 is the Gospel Reading for this Sunday, and one… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Abundance: A Spiritual Reality” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Schellink is the guest speaker at Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Ave.
Weekend program scheduled for Unity in the Olympics

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Abundance: A Spiritual… Continue reading

Bode scheduled for OUUF weekend program in PA

The Rev. Bruce Bode will present “Separation and Connection:… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Move at the… Continue reading

During the PSHA game show at the Crosby arena in Agnew last weekend, Duncan Parks, 18, and Ed ran a blazingly fast “A” division time of 8.45 in the Keyrace. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)
HORSEPLAY: Olympic Peninsula equestrians beat the heat

ARE YOU FEELING beat by the heat? It’s sure had me feeling… Continue reading

Scribble Bots STEAM event for tweens at NOLS locations

Kids in grades 4–7 will build robots that scribble… Continue reading

Emma Weller
Former Port Angeles Roughrider graduates from Harvard

Port Angeles High School alumna Emma Weller recently graduated… Continue reading

Dan Peacock, on left, receives the 2024 Community Service Award from Lora Brabant, president of the Clallam County School Retirees Association.
Peacock receives retirees’ community service award

Dan Peacock has received the 2024 Community Service Award… Continue reading

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award.
Thomas Batey recognized

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award. Batey… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Gardening fun in the summer sun

SUMMER HAS OFFICIALLY begun, school is out, for a couple weeks the… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Living honorably is a marathon, not a sprint

THE OPENING CEREMONY of the Paris Olympics is a week away. The… Continue reading