New England

March, 2010
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Vernal Witch Hazel
Nothing carries the promise of spring like seeing the delicate yellow blossoms of vernal witch hazel unfurling in very early spring on the still leafless branches, sometimes even against a backdrop of snow. Hamamelis vernalis makes a 6-12' shrub that is vase-shaped when young, broadening with age. Hardy in Zones 4-8, it will grow in full sun or part shade, is tolerant of many types of soil and is generally problem free. The four narrow petals of the fragrant flowers unroll to catch the sun's warmth, then curl back up again for protection when the temperature drops. You'll be rewarded with color again in the fall, as the leaves turn a pretty golden-yellow. Witch hazel forces easily. Cut a few branches in late winter, place the base of the stems in warm water, keep in a cool spot until the buds begin to open, then recut the stems under water before arranging in a vase. Enjoy the sight and smell of springtime!

Web Finds

National Climatic Data Center US Climate Normals
We gardeners are always being advised to start seeds so many weeks before the last frost date in spring or set out transplants when the last frost date has passed. But how do you know when that is? One source of information is the National Climatic Data Center. This site lets you select your state, then brings up a table that lists freeze/frost probability for various locations in that state. Given are the dates of probable first and last frosts. For the fall and spring dates of occurrence, and freeze-free period, probabilities are given for three temperatures (36, 32, and 28 degrees F) at three probability levels (10, 50, and 90 percent).

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