Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 2012

Attract Hummingbirds to your yard. Hummingbirds are colorful, fun to watch and help control the insect population.  One of the easiest ways to attract these tiny creatures to your yard is to plant flowering trees, perennials and shrubs as a food source for them. Hummingbirds love long, tubular or bell-shaped flowers. The best trees with this kind of flower are Redbud (Cercis), Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) which is also very drought tolerant. Shrubs include Abelia, Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles), Cotoneaster, Hibiscus, Lavender (Lavandula), Honeysuckle (Lonicera), Currant (Ribes), Rosemary (Rosmarinus), Elderberry (Sambucus) and Lilac (Syringa). Plant them near a patio or other sitting area for a close up view. Favorite vines are Trumpet Vine (Campsis) and Honeysuckle (Lonicera). Inviting, colorful perennials would be Agastache, Hollyhock (Alcea), Columbine (Aquilegia), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias), Delphinium, Foxglove (Digitalis), Gladiola, Coral Bells (Heuchera), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia), Lobelia, Lupine (Lupinus), Bee Balm (Monarda), Geranium (Pelargonium), Penstemon, Sage (Salvia) and Veronica. Plant any of these in your landscape, water when needed and sit back and watch the show this summer.

Plant cool season veggies. Since our average last frost date is May 1st it is a little early yet to plant tomatoes, peppers, squash and other warm season vegetables without protection but it is just the right time to plant broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and all of the cool season vegetables. We have a lot of these vegetables in plants and seeds now. If you haven't already done so improve your vegetable garden with Back to Earth Compost, Composted Manure and Bone Meal before you plant and fertilize regularly with Fox Farm granular or liquid fertilizers.

Mulch, mulch, mulch. I write about mulching quite often because it is so important. Mulching conserves moisture which is very important with our spring winds kicking up. It also helps maintain an even soil temperature. Your plants roots will really appreciate this when it is 80 degrees one day and down to 25 two nights later. Applying a 6-8" layer of mulch around your fruit trees is the only real way to keep the soil temperature cool and slow down (notice I didn't say prevent) premature flowering in spring. So just do it! Mulch everything, all of the time and your plants will thank you for it.

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night'. Salvia is the largest genus of the mint family, is often referred to as sage and contains 700-900 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals. All have tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are resistant to deer and rabbits. 'May  Night' falls into the herbaceous perennial category and has rough, lance-shaped 4" leaves that form a low rosette up to a foot wide. Its long, dense flower spikes bloom violet-purple in early summer and will continue if kept deadheaded. This plant will reach 18" tall and should be spaced 18-24" apart since they do tend to spread. It would do well planted in a container, in a perennial bed or along a walkway and would make a good companion of the yellow flowered Coreopsis and Paprika or Moonshine Yarrow.  This perennial is drought tolerant once established and very cold hardy to minus 30.
Not a very good photo of Salvia nemorosa 'May Night'