New England

May, 2011
Regional Report

Clever Gardening Technique

Plant Spring and Fall Flowers for Pollinators
A couple of weeks ago I was taking a walk on a fine Vermont early spring day -- lots of blue sky and sunshine, swelling buds on the lilacs and red maples, but little in bloom save crocuses and a few early daffodils. Then I passed a pussy willow, its fuzzy catkins, or flowers, in bloom. And the entire shrub was a hive of activity, as each catkin was being visited by a hungry bee. This brought home to me the importance of including plants in our gardens to support pollinators from the earliest days of spring on into the fall. It's easy to think mainly of planting summer blooming flowers to feed these important insects, but try to include early and late blooming pollen providers as well. For information on plants attractive to pollinators and their bloom times, check out these helpful websites; http://www.pollinator.org/guides.htm and http://www.xerces.org/pollinators-northeast-region/.

Favorite or New Plant

Garland Spirea
Spireas are one of the glories of the spring landscape, and one of the first to burst forth with white blossoms is the garland spirea (Spiraea x cinerea 'Grefsheim'). I have bushes on either side of my front steps and when their upright, arching branches are covered with cascading sprays of small, white flowers even before the leaves emerge in early May in my garden, they are a beautiful sight to behold, a perfect backdrop for the daffodils and tulips in bloom in front. After flowering finishes, their vase shape and fine textured foliage add a graceful note to my foundation planting. Reaching 4-5 feet tall and wide, they fit well into areas under windows. Adapted to zones 4-7, they are generally problem free. I prune mine right after bloom every few years to thin out the interior.

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