Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March in Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Good morning Portland gardeners,

March has arrived and with it a daily rotating variety of rain, hail, snow mix, wind, fog, clouds, and sun breaks. That's why the gardening proverb goes: March in Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.Two weeks ago I managed 2 afternoons working in the garden without any rain. It was cold to be sure. Raking leaves, cleaning up winter storm debris, pruning hellebore and sword fern foliage, and cutting back the remaining ornamental grasses that dried out last fall.

This morning was a surprising delight. I was awake early before the sunrise and just before 7am I noticed it was actually sunny outside. I bundled up over my pjs and headed into the garden with a mug of steaming hot tea. I curled up in my adirondack chair wrapped in a blanket and soaked in the late winter garden.

Living in the middle of our city, one block off the Alberta Arts District can make for a noisy existence. So finding a quiet time in my urban garden is a rare treat indeed. Sunday at 7am, for a blissful half hour, the only noise was birdsong and the gentle music of the breeze stirring my wind chimes. No cars, no delivery trucks, no pedestrians, no dogs barking, no one smoking. Total heaven in my urban garden. I watched and listened to crows, bluejays, robins, sparrows, and one hummingbird all visit my garden in turn. Even a few seagulls flew overhead.

When it is not raining I hope you can enjoy sitting in your garden, doing a little gardening, and go on a nature walk. By now you should be seeing yellow-blooming forsythia, fragrant winter daphne, bright and tiny crocus, an endless variety of hellebores, and exotic looking edgeworthia.

A word of warning for eager gardeners. I have seen vegetable starts beginning to show up at nurseries and grocery stores. IT IS TOO EARLY to plant your vegetable starts. Our average last frost in Portland is March 15. Hold off on your cool season vegetable starts at least a few more weeks. Please also wait on planting seeds. Seeds have very poor germination in cool wet soil.

I know the other gardening proverb Plant Peas by President's Day. Well, after gardening in Portland for 17 years I subscribe more to Plant Peas at St Patrick's Day.

However, now is a good time to plant asparagus crowns, rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, cane fruit like raspberries, grapes, kiwi, and fruit trees.

Some ways to satiate your eager gardener until it is planting time:
*Make a garden plan for the year
*Purchase your seeds and bulbs
*Inventory, clean & repair garden tools
*Pick up some flowering spring bulbs and cool season annuals to fluff up your containers-now's a great time for hyacinth, daffodil, mini iris, ranunculus, anemone, primrose, fairy primrose, pansy, and viola
*Spread sluggo organic slug bait around your garden, reapply every 2 weeks to keep in check the slug enemy
*Purchase blooming branches, tulips, and daffodils from your local floral shop to bring the garden inside
*Hang a new spring wreath on your front door
*Brush up on your gardening skills by taking a gardening workshop, read a garden book, get a subscription to a gardening magazine, or join a gardening club like The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon (HPSO)

March is definitely a lion right now, so please use caution in planting too early. Spring will be here soon, I guarantee it!

Happy Gardening,

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