Upper South

April, 2012
Regional Report

Look for Special Plant Sales and Open Houses

Botanical gardens, local plant societies, and other institutions as well as nurseries and garden centers often have special one or two day plant sales, garden fairs, or open houses in the spring. These are a great opportunity to purchase new, unusual, or rare plants or have "first pick" of more traditional garden plants. Check newspapers for listings or get on email lists to get notices of events.

Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

During the summer months, spring-flowering shrubs develop the buds for next year's flowers. If you need to shape, control the size, or encourage renewal growth of these shrubs without losing the bloom, then prune them within several weeks after they've finished flowering. For plants that have a number of older stems, remove the oldest ones at soil level. The plant will respond by sending up new growth from the roots.

Eat Lots of Asparagus

Asparagus, from your own garden or farmers' markets, is the star of the spring season. Enjoy it steamed, boiled, sauteed, roasted, or grilled. The pencil-thin spears are especially good raw, whether in salads or with the dip of choice. Although it's not the same as fresh, preserve some by freezing or pickling. And, don't forget, there's still time to plant asparagus in your garden, which will produce spears for years to come.

Choose Raspberries

Of all the fruits that are possible to grow in our gardens, if you could only choose one, why not make it raspberries? Expensive to buy, they are easy to grow. Plant these tender, delectable fruits with an intense, unique fragrance in full to partial sun and well-drained soil. Even just one or two plants will provide enough fruit for an occasional treat, plus the runners till spread, making more plants. Besides the traditional red-fruited varieties, try a yellow one as well.

Put Out Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbirds usually return about mid-April, so if feeders haven't already been hung, now's the time. Clean feeders thoroughly with hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Make a sugar water solution by combing one cup granulated sugar with four cups tap water. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then cool. Store in the refrigerator what is not used immediately.

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