Flowering Plums Announce Spring!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Last chance to spray peach and nectarine trees for peach leaf curl before the buds break open. Use copper sulfate wettable powder for the best results.
    • Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and other cool season vegetable plants can be set out now for a spring crop.
    • Flowering dogwoods and tulip magnolias can be planted now during the dormant season from balled & burlapped specimens.
    • Asparagus will provide you with delicious, low-priced spears for years to come if you plant them now from dormant crowns.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.

Flowering Plum Trees

Some of the showiest flowering trees in the springtime are flowering plums. Their pink flowers, which are coming into bloom right now, are always a pleasant sign that spring is on the way.

These trees are widely planted throughout California. Their reddish purple foliage, which appears after the flowers are through, remains colored throughout the entire growing season. All varieties are deciduous, dropping their leaves in the fall.

Flowering plums are small trees, growing 20-25 feet tall. They are densely branched and should be thinned to remove crossing branches after they bloom. They should not, however, be “headed” or they will just become more thickly branched. “Thinning” cuts remove whole branches down to where they meet a larger branch; “heading” cuts remove the end of a branch, leaving a stub.

The Blireiana plum has beautiful, large, fragrant, double pink flowers that bloom over a long season. The tree grows to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide with long, slender branches. The leaves start out reddish purple, turning to greenish bronze in summer. It is a choice ornamental tree for the lawn or patio, as it produces little or no fruit.

Krauter Vesuvius is the best known variety for its dark reddish purple leaves in the summer. It is known as the “purple leaf plum”. Its flowers are a lovely, light pink and are smaller than those of the Blireiana. It grows to about 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide with an upright branching habit. It produces a good crop of small fruits in summer which can be quite a mess around paved areas.

Crimson Pointe™ is the first and only columnar shaped, purple leafed, ornamental plum on the market. This deciduous tree has glossy bronze foliage, that turns a deep merlot-burgundy color in summer. It produces showy white flowers and dark purple fruit, and will eventually reach 20 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It is good for a side yard or other narrow area or can be planted in a single line to draw the view toward a focal point.

Flowering plums are tough trees that take hot dry weather and tolerate drought. They will grow in any type of soil, and prefer a sunny location. They are a good size for most yards, adding beauty as well as some shade to the landscape.

If you are looking for a small, ornamental, flowering tree the flowering plum may be the tree for you.

Happy May Day!

Friday, May 1st, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Feed roses to encourage a beautiful display of color later this month. Treat plants to prevent insect and disease problems.
    • Plant the vegetable garden this month, but remember that late frosts can still nip tender young plants. “Season Starter” protects against frost damage and promotes earlier harvest.
    • Flowering dogwood trees are blooming now to help you choose a beautiful small tree for a focal point in your garden.
    • It’s time to put out oriole feeders. You can also attract them with fresh orange halves.
    • Colorful Gerberas with their large, daisy flowers are a standout in containers. Water them infrequently and give them plenty of sun for flowers all summer.

Flowers for May Day

May Day is all about enjoying flowers and the beauty of nature. The sweetness of spring is most evident in May. It’s the perfect time to celebrate with some special flowers.

May Day was originally the day on which the ancient Romans honored Flora, the goddess of flowers. Roman art of the period shows her walking around the landscape scattering flowers as she goes. When Romans arrived in Britain, May Day took on some of the local Celtic customs as well. The May pole, which was decorated with garlands and flowers, played a key role in May Day celebrations.

Gathering flowers and branches became a tradition and “bringing in the May” became a popular activity on May 1st. The giving of May baskets are a nice tradition. Make a flower-filled basket and tie a bow or ribbon streamers onto the handle and fasten it to the door handle of a friend.

May is indeed a glorious month in the garden. We start out with the fragrant blooms of lilacs wafting through the air and wisteria, draping the trellis with her lavender flowers. Then we are greeted by the spectacular azaleas and rhododendrons that burst into bloom after a few warm days. The camellias are still covered with their perfect pink, white or red flowers.

Dogwood trees light up the shady woodland garden, their simple blossoms reminding one of butterflies, at a distance.

Cherry trees will be blooming before long with pink or white flowers in profusion. Their many varieties include upright ‘Kwanzan’, with its puffy pink flowers, and weeping forms with pale pink blossoms that cascade to the ground.

Flowering pear trees will soon put on their spring show with billows of white blossoms. Crabapple trees continue to brighten the landscape with their colorful flowers in every shade of pink.

Clematis vines with large, showy flowers will grace trellises in many gardens. Their blooms are real show-stoppers when they cover a trellis in front of the house. And snowball bushes will soon be covered with masses of white flower clusters.

Lovely bleeding hearts are now nodding their heads in the shade garden. Bright white candytuft is covered with masses of flowers that attract butterflies. Columbine will soon be blooming and attracting hummingbirds to their colorful blossoms. And irises will bloom this month in almost every color combination imaginable.

Sweet violets are a favorite ground cover in semi-shady places. They spread happily around the garden. The little flowers of Tiny Rubies dianthus add their charm to the border. And happy pansies bob their smiling faces in the breeze.

May is a gift from the flower world to all of us flower lovers. Happy May Day!

Pansies for Spring!

Friday, March 20th, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Spring vegetables love cool, moist weather and don’t mind a little frost. Set out lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, onion, spinach and Swiss chard starts now.
    • Sweet peas, with their memorable fragrance, can be planted now from nursery starts for wonderful bouquets later this spring.
    • Thin raspberry canes to 4-6 inches apart. Cut back remaining canes to 3 feet tall.
    • Prune Hydrangeas now by removing old flower heads down to the first new leaves. Don’t prune stems which have no old flowers, and they will bloom first this summer.
    • Last chance to spray peach and nectarine trees for peach leaf curl before the buds break open. Use copper sulfate powder for the best results.

Smiling Pansies

The happy faces of pansies are a delight in the garden or in a bud vase on the table. Developed from three wild species, the modern pansies have large flowers, beautifully marked “faces” and a wide range of colors. They add color to the winter and spring garden over a long season.

Pansies are one of the earliest flowering plants, blooming right alongside your spring bulbs. They are low-growing annual flowers that are nice for borders and look very pretty in containers of all kinds. Their heart-shaped, shiny green leaves cover the ground and the flowers rise above them on six-inch stems.

The flowers, up to three inches across, come in almost all colors of the rainbow: violet, purple, blue, pink, red, orange, yellow, white and many exciting bi-colors. Fill an entire bed with pansies for a dramatic spring effect! They also are great in window boxes and containers.

The “old fashioned” pansy has many new varieties to bring early color to your pots and garden beds. Breeding improvements in recent years have produced hybrids that bloom longer, show better weather tolerance, and display a wonderful range of colors and patterns. Seed companies release new varieties yearly.

Pansies have become more popular as gardeners have seen how well they preform through wet, wintery weather. They are unaffected by a covering of snow, and pop right back when the snow melts.

The Delta Series is a group of spring flowering pansies with flowers measuring 2.5″ – 3″ across. They are both very heat tolerant and winter hardy, and offer many pretty bi-colors with faces as well as solid colors. Delta Pure Mix has solid colored flowers in bright yellow, red, blue, white and other colors.

Matrix pansies are vigorous plants that are bred to provide abundant large blooms over a long season and add vibrant color to any landscape setting. They branch quickly and resist stretching so they look their best all through the spring.

Pansies are good companions for spring-flowering bulbs. By choosing colors that compliment the bulbs you can create some very pretty living bouquets. Blooming over a longer season than the bulbs, they will fill in and provide color as the bulbs are finishing their cycle.

When you plant your pansies, water them well but don’t fertilize them for a week or so. They need time to settle in before they can absorb fertilizer. Enjoy some pansies in vases indoors. The more you pick them, the more they bloom.

Springtime isn’t complete without pansies’ smiling faces in the garden.