Monday, April 28, 2008

April Showers bring April Flowers

After two years of off and on drought conditions we have had plenty of rain this spring. More than 2" fell on the 20th and 21st; one week later we're looking at another 2+ inches. More than we really need, but right now, when the leaves are expanding, is a good time for it. Growth is explosive. Walking through Fern Valley, branches, many laden with flowers, invade the paths. If we didn't prune regularly, the paths would soon be impassable.

The rain is good for newly planted grass; spring isn't the preferred season to plant grass in the Washington area (fall is) but if you went for it this year, you hit the jackpot. Likewise, if you planted trees, shrubs, or perennials this past fall you are still on Mother Nature's Dime as far as watering is concerned. Thats why fall planting is safest. The most problematic season for newly planted plants is summer so if you plant in the fall your plants have 6 months or more to grow roots and establish themselves before it gets hot and dry. If you go to the Nursery on a nice day in May, summer might start the next week and if not will surely appear within a month and a half. It doesn't mean you can't plant in spring; you will just have to pay more attention to watering needs,

In this photo Rhododendron periclymenoides, the Pinxterbloom Azalea in the foreground is one of hundreds in Fern Valley. This is the commonest azaleas in the Piedmont of Maryland and Virginia. It is an easy plant to grow, handling deciduous shade, a variety of soil conditions, and various moisture levels.

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