By Gary Jones
Spring is the best time of year for a garden party. Outdoors, there are layers of fresh, bright green foliage, vibrant colors and mild temperatures. The holidays encourage us — Purim, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day are all ideal outdoor spring celebrations.
How do you make sure your garden is party-ready? First, you will want to do some after-winter tidying up. Spend a pleasant afternoon in early March removing any dead or damaged branches on shrubs and trees. It is a good time to do some plant shaping, too. You will also want to trim last year’s growth of perennial flowers. Simply cut back the stems to just above new spring growth.
If you have lost plants after last fall’s warm weather, replace them. Now is also a good time to remove tired old plants that aren’t healthy. You will be amazed how much this can improve the look of a garden.
Next, decide where your garden needs color. Plant these areas with bright annuals. They acclimate very quickly and provide instant color. It is best to plant warm-season flowers now. They will take occasional spring heat waves and will bloom through the summer.
Top choices for spring and summer flowers are petunia, impatiens, begonias of all types, New Guinea impatiens, cosmos, marigold, lobelia, ageratum, foxglove, marguerite, roses and many others. Don’t hesitate to visit your neighborhood garden center for inspiration.
Add pots of flowers in areas that can’t be planted — patios, decks, balconies and courtyards. Pots overflowing with colorful plants soften bare walls and walkways and will provide privacy. If desired, an entire enclosed garden can be created with plants in containers.
For your spring garden party, you will need outdoor furniture, of course. Don’t forget places to dine as well as areas to sit and relax. Today’s garden furniture is sturdy, weather-resistant and every bit as comfortable and beautiful as indoor furniture. It may be time for a furniture update.
Lastly, don’t forget about outdoor décor. Door wreaths, lanterns, table decorations, water features, candles and vases filled with cut flowers will all contribute to your spring garden party.
If you take photos of your spring garden party, feel free to share them with us. We might include some of them in an upcoming issue of Mission Valley News.
—Gary Jones is Chief Horticulturist at Armstrong Garden Centers, which has locations on Friars Road and Morena Boulevard. Email your drought and gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.