By Mark Packard
Spring color is about to begin! You will notice the forsythia starting to bloom bright yellow and the bulbs start to show through the mulch. Are you looking for some unique color other than your typical rhododendron and azalea? Some less common early bloomers are the flowering almond, redbud trees, and sand cherries. These early bloomers bring some welcome color to our landscape in early spring but probably the most noticeable color of all is creeping phlox. Creeping phlox is a groundcover perennial that is commonly found hanging over retaining walls or along a walkway. The bright pink, white, blue and purple is eye catching to say the least. Creeping phlox is an easy plant to grow. It tolerates full sun and thrives in areas where other, more sensitive perennials don’t. Creeping phlox is a great perennial for rock gardens.

Pansies are a cold tolerant annual that can handle a frost and even light snow! They can be planted now and will keep blooming until the temperatures get hot. Annuals need to be replanted every year. Perennials come back every year, which is more cost effective and less work in the spring. With the right landscape design you can mix perennials, shrubs and trees to have color all year. The reason people still use annuals is because they bloom for months and months instead of just a few weeks like perennials and shrubs. There are, however, re-blooming shrubs and perennials that will blossom a second time giving a longer bloom season. The reblooming hydrangea was one of the first but now there are reblooming lilacs, dianthus, weigela and more!

One of the most common questions I get this time of year is “Is it too early to plant?” You can plant trees, shrubs and hardy annuals like pansies now, but don’t plant your vegetable garden yet. The old-school belief is not to plant vegetables, herbs and summer annuals like petunias until after the full moon in May. The full moon in May is also known as “the flower moon.” This year the full moon is May 26. 

Gardening questions? Email mark@sterlinggreenery.com

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