Blog

A Note From Rick | On the Arrival of Spring

photo by Michael Schmeelk

How-to
Bridge Gardens
March 19, 2019

By Rick Bogusch

Late winter can be a busy time of the year for hardy gardeners. With Spring right around the corner, now is the perfect time to:

Finish up winter pruning of small trees, fruit trees, and shrubs. This includes removing dead limbs and raising canopies of plants like Eastern red cedar and white pine, so shrubs and perennials planted underneath have enough light, air, and room to grow. We’re grateful to Jackson Dodds who came to Bridge Gardens in February to remove limbs from white pines over the raspberries near our community gardens, and from an oak and spruce that were interfering with the growth of nearby plantings. Such pruning allows big and little plants to co-exist and is something you should do on a regular basis.

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Plan your vegetable and herb gardens and order seeds and plants. Some seeds should be started indoors now for transplanting later, while others germinate well seeded into the soil. There are a number of vegetables that are cold tolerant like arugula, spinach, and kale and can be sown outdoors now. Indoors, I’ve already started artichokes and onions, soon to be followed by broccoli and cabbage. I suggest holding off on warm season crops like tomatoes until at least mid-April if not a bit later. Come to my upcoming Vegetable Garden workshop scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 10:00 am. I’ll be sharing tips on selecting, buying and planting seeds, soil and bed preparations, fertilization, and more. See the calendar of programs below for more details.

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Pick up fallen branches, twigs and sticks but don’t rake yet. Raking now can cause real damage to your lawn as it will pull out grass plants, allowing space for weed seeds to grow. If you must clear leaf debris, I recommend using a blower rather than a rake. And, be extra gentle in your planting beds, as tender perennials and autumn-planted bulbs are awakening and starting to push up through your mulch. Their beauty will be here soon!

I’m enjoying the beauty and scent from our witch hazels, which have been in bloom since January.

We have varieties of Hamamelis vernalis, native to the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States. The one pictured here is an Asian hybrid with orange flowers called ‘Jelena.’ Witch hazel flowers have the ability to open and close for months, depending on the temperature. Most people are surprised to find a flowering tree in February or March, especially one as fragrant as witch hazel is. I hope you’ll take time to visit and enjoy it.

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As every gardener knows, CHANGE is the only constant in the garden! At your next visit, you may notice new plantings in the large bed next to our parking area. I’ve designed it to reflect our focus on native plants that have a low impact on our environment. In addition to Eastern red cedar and American holly, I’ll be planting winterberry holly and more native herbaceous perennials. Other additions throughout the garden include new elderberries and Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ behind the herb garden as part of our edible landscaping efforts, and beach plum going in to the curved beds above the rose garden. I especially enjoy the fact that these plants are both edible and native. Speaking of native, come visit the rose garden as spring warms into summer, as I’ve been replacing grasses with two natives - prairie dropseed and a variety of Indian grass called Sioux Blue. I hope to see you soon!