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

Sequim revives its Christmas Chorus

Community performances set this weekend

A GROWING CONCERN: For every season, there is a plant

WELL, THANKSGIVING HAS come and gone, and hopefully so has all the… Continue reading

Photo by Karen Griffiths

Cutline: My niece Brooke Stromberg and Lacy, both 15, make a winning turn during a barrel racing competition during an April game show in 2008  at JeffCo fairgrounds.   Later, the duo became the 2008 Washington High School Equestrian Team  and Patterned Speed Horse Association’s (junior division) state champions in barrel racing. Both shows were held in Wenatchee.
HORSEPLAY: Saying goodbye to a faithful friend

I’M FEELING A bit emotional as I share my Lacey passed away… Continue reading

Singers, from left, Abbigail Cuellar, 16, Danielle Lorentzen of Ghostlight Productions, Kaylyn Stroup, 15, and Max MacFall, 15, perform a Christmas carol during Wednesday evening’s opening ceremony for the 33rd annual Festival of Trees at Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Tickets are available for Festival of Trees

Senior breakfast, gala and family days also part of annual event

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith
Service set for Unity in Port Townsend

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Nature, Peace and… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “The Great-Fullness” 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 “The Great-Fullness” at… Continue reading

Joseph Bednarik
‘Grace’ is set for Sunday program

Joseph Bednarik will present “Holding Hands with Grace” at… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Being thankful for Thanksgiving

I AM THANKFUL for Thanksgiving and how it prepares our hearts for… Continue reading

Volunteer Merry Svenson of Port Angeles carries plates of turkey and fixings to be served to hungry visitors during Wednesday’s annual pre-Thanksgiving lunch at the Salvation Army Social Service Center in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Salvation Army offers meal on Thanksgiving Eve

Additional free community fests to be offered today

Free public Thanksgiving feasts offered on Peninsula

First meal set today in Port Angeles

Conservation district hosting annual plant sale

The Clallam Conservation District is taking orders for its… Continue reading