What makes you happy cry? A friend's good news? When your candidate wins an election? For me it's the sight of the first spring color in my garden. After months of punishing winter that first hint of spring is proof that Mother Nature is indeed kind. Since we all want more of a good thing, here are ten ways to add color to your spring garden now:
1. Plant colorful annuals. These plants are great for gardeners who didn't plan ahead and plant bulbs months ago. Pansies, petunias, and snap dragons are great choices because they like cool weather, add vibrant color, and grow well in containers. Ideally, your spring garden will showcase both annuals and perennials so read on...
2. Plant iconic bulbs. Flowers that grow from bulbs such as crocus, tulip, and daffodil fare best when they are planted in the fall and given time in the garden to establish their roots. However, if you didn't get bulbs in the ground months ago, you can still try planting them now. Take heart in knowing that if they don't bloom this spring, they will stay in the ground and bloom next year.
Broaden your flower pallet by trying lesser known varieties of iconic flowers. For tulips try white emperor, stresa, and Tsar Peter varieties. For daffodil try monal, Pueblo, and narcisssus poeticus. Looking for something completely different? Try Glory-of-the-snow, Cape cowslip, Flowering onion, and Summer snowflake.
3. Containers are perfect for spring gardens. Spring can surprise gardeners by turning really cold really fast. If a late spring snow or killer frost is in the forecast you can easily bring the container inside for a night. Also, if you determine that your container isn't getting enough light then it can be moved.
4. Weeding isn't sexy, but it is necessary. By weeding your garden early in the growing season you're making room for your spring garden. The process of weeding not only rids your garden of undesirable plants but also tills the soil.
5. Soil is just about as sexy as weeding, but it can't be overlooked. Now is the time to get manure and compost in your garden. Not only will it help your spring flowers grow, but it will also help the soil's long term health as you start to think about a brilliant summer garden.
6. Let there be light! Just like you, spring flowers are craving sun. Make sure that your garden is located to optimize the sun's rays.
7. Bombs away! Expand your horizons and think beyond your own garden. Does your neighborhood have an eye sore such as a dark alley or abandoned lot? Make your own eco-friendly seed bombs and spread colorful flower seeds around your neighborhood.
8. Consider (tasteful) garden ornaments. If you're like me, you're wary of garden ornaments that tend to be tacky versus tasteful. Having said that, a carefully chosen ornament can make a spring garden pop.
Have a friend who is a potter? Maybe she can throw you a charming pot for a container garden. A funky birdbath will be welcomed by both birds and butterflies. Have your kiddo (or neice or nephew or neighbor) paint you some cheerful rock creatures (use acrylic paint so it stands up to the weather).
9. Knowing a few basic garden design principals helps. Choose a focal point for your spring garden. For my garden, it is a patch of tulips and daffodils clustered under a bird bath. Maybe your focal point is a brilliant azalea bush. Mix colors and shapes for visual interest; consider red crocosmias and yellow cone flowers.
Complementary colors (colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel, i.e. red and blue) pop out of your landscape and give it life. Grouping similar plants (i.e. a bunch of lilies or a group of lilac trees) is more appealing than random flowers strewn haphazardly throughout a landscape.
Just like in your elementary school class photo--tall should go in the back and short in the front. Know how tall your flowers will grow and place them appropriately. There's nothing worse than having a gorgeous flower blocked from view by a tall neighbor.
10. Plan for future springs. Plant flowering trees and bushes now. You will be able to enjoy their color now and make an investment in spring gardens to come. Also, having a variety of plants--annuals, perennials, brushes, and trees--adds visual interest to your garden. Consider red bud, lilac, azalea, crab apple, rhododendron, and cherry blossom.
For me, gardening is therapeutic at any time of year but never more so than in the spring. Remember that when you plant a beautiful spring garden you aren't only brightening your world but also sharing that color with all who pass by your garden.
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photo of spring garden via Shutterstock