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Time to Sow Your Garden?

Some spring garden planting tips.

Yellow, orange, purple, blue and white pansies are opening on stands outside a local plant emporium on Main Street.

Warm weather is drawing gardeners outside like chocolate tempts chocoholics.

But should you start planting yet?

That depends. Lisa Greene of offered a number of gardening tips Friday morning specifically after this unseasonably warm winter.

You can start to move perennials, the flowers that return year after year but don’t bloom all season, around April 1, Greene said.  If you have them in your garden, you may see them beginning to leaf out now. Perennials can be moved and planted when the ground is soft enough to dig, Greene said, generally in mid-April.

But hold your trowel, Greene urged, and wait to plant annuals, which bloom from spring to frost. Buy annuals closer to Mother’s Day, which is the second Sunday in May, Greene suggested.

“People want to plant,” she said, ”but we can still get a frost,” which annuals can’t tolerate.

Ditto for tomatoes. If you plant them outside now, Greene said, they’ll die.

That’s why Eric’s sells so many hanging baskets around Mother’s Day, Greene said. People can take them inside if the temperature drops too low even then.

Walking through a greenhouse can whet a gardener’s appetite to plant, according to Greene. We try not to sell plants before they can survive, she said, on their own outside.

“There’s a time to sow, a time to reap,” she said, from the biblical Ecclesiastes.

Now is the time to “wake up your garden,” Greene said. Rake up fallen leaves. Trim certain plants, like privet, ornamental grasses and seed heads from perennials.

Don’t trim maple trees, she warned. They’re getting ready to grow, and if you cut them now, they’ll lose sap, she explained, “like bloodletting,” and energy.

You can plant cold-weather plants like peas and cabbage outside now, Greene said, and pansies.

In her own border garden of perennials, Greene grows a witch hazel tree “which gives me the look of forsythia a month earlier” and hellebores, or Lenten roses. Neither requires care, she said. She also loves irises. They can bloom from May into June if you plant varieties with different bloom times, she noted. She also loves “endless summer” hydrangeas.

With all the strange weather, "watch everything” in your garden, Greene suggested. You may have to water plants you’ve never had to water before. Find the right fertilizer for your plants.

“Talk to an expert,” she said.

Besides annuals and perennials, Eric’s Flower and Plant Emporium offers cut flowers and arrangements; a garden center; bulk products, like mulch and firewood, even fractions of a cord; and gifts “that appeal to people who garden.” 

Yes, a man named Eric originally owned the business. Tom Goddard bought what was then a garden center with a flower shop about 25 years ago, Greene said, to grow his landscaping business. Then he learned the floral business, she said.

If you prefer to look out for what’s blooming now instead of working in your garden, look for forsythia, Greene suggested, star magnolia and certain kinds of rhododendron.

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