Weather was the topic of conversation again in March. The temperatures during the first three weeks of the month were ten to twenty degrees above normal. Trees, shrubs and perennials began to bud and grow a month ahead of schedule. Reality set in the last week of the month as the temperatures fell back to normal. Temperatures dropped from 70 to 20 degrees in less than three days. This sudden temperature drop caused some problems in the landscape; most notable were the magnolia flowers. They went from just about ready to open to brown and dead. It’s the first time I have ever witnessed an extremely early bloom followed by a knock out frost. During the next month we will know if other plants suffered any vascular or bud problems. It should be an interesting observation and study as the spring season progresses.
March was also an extremely dry month. Below normal rainfall and low humidity levels created a desert- like environment. Fire danger was high as brush and forest fire warnings were posted. A tinder dry landscape, high winds, and a spark can cause a brush fire in minutes. These conditions will persist until we get some significant rain.
It’s time to plant. If we have the space we should plant at least one tree this spring. Trees shade the soil and create a cooler summer environment. If I were to pick one tree it would be one of the Native Oaks. In our region, most any oak will work. I am partial to the Red, White, Scarlet, or Chestnut Oak. They are a strong, slow growing, disease and pest resistant tree. Their high protein nut feeds a variety of wildlife. My second tree would be the Maple. The three varieties I recommend would be Silver, Sugar or Red Maple. Maples have an amazing ability to clear the air. Their respiration, when in leaf, filters pollutants out of the air.
Shrubs to consider this spring are plants that will stay to scale in the area we are looking to cover. A common planting mistake is to choose a shrub that, over time, will grow too large and require heavy pruning. Plant shrubs that are native and will adapt to the location in the garden. Sunny, dry, windy, wet, or shady are a few micro-climates to consider when choosing the proper plant. The right plant in the proper location will cut down on many pest problems and help the shrub grow to its maximum potential. Try fruit and berry plants such as Blueberry, Elderberry and Beach Plum. These shrubs are ornamental and have an edible berry high in antioxidants.
Areas in the landscape that are ordinarily filled with annual flowers can be replaced with annual vegetables. Vegetables in the landscape can be as ornamental as they are edible. Groups or drifts of vegetables in hedge rows or in foundation plantings are a space saving application. Thinking out of the vegetable box will allow the creative gardener to plant a handsome edible garden in the front yard landscape. These are some healthy living landscape tips that not only look good, but taste good.
Pete and The Natives