A Hint of Spring

Even with all the bitter cold we have experienced recently, there is a hint of Spring at the Montgomery Botanical Gardens. If you look closely as you stroll along the pathway, you will get a sneak peek at just a few bright yellow Forsythia buds barely beginning to push into the light. You can also spy a few small budding pinkish-purplish blooms on the Japanese Magnolias. Sure signs that Spring cannot be far away even in these gloomy cold days. 

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Japonica Camellias are in bloom

Do not miss the Japonica Camellias that are currently showing off their beautiful variety of blossoms in the Southern Garden right now. These welcome interruptions to the dull greys and browns of winter are a delight to the eye as you stroll through and around the garden. There are large, old bushes, smaller recently added bushes and many in between. Take your time and be sure to spy the many shades of reds, pinks, whites, and striped blossoms and note the variation in the shape of each variety of bloom. 

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Information gathered from Gardening Know How

All About Snowdrops

Snowdrop flower bulbs (Galanthus) are grown in both cold winter regions and moderate winters, but keep in mind they truly dislike warm winters. So, if you live in Southern California, Florida, or other hot climates, you will have to pass on having the snowdrop flower in your garden.

Information about Snowdrop Bulbs 

Snowdrop flower bulbs are small bulbs that are often sold “in the green” or undried. They can very easily dry out, so they won’t be happy sitting around for weeks on end waiting for you get around to planting them. You will want to purchase your snowdrop bulbs and plant them immediately after you receive them. 

Snowdrops are a pest-free plant. Rabbits and deer won’t eat them either, and most chipmunks and mice will leave them alone. 

Snowdrops don’t often multiply from seed in a garden, but they will multiply by offsets. Offsets are new bulbs that grow attached to the mother bulb. After a couple of years, the clump of bulbs can be quite dense. If you wait until the flowers fade but the leaves are still green and vigorous, you can easily increase your planting. Simply dig up the clump, separate the bulbs, and immediately replant them in the new spaces that you already prepared. If rainfall is lacking, make sure you water the bulbs until their leaves turn yellow and the snowdrops are dormant.

Where to Plant Snowdrop Bulbs 

Even though they are dormant or asleep underground during summer months, snowdrops do enjoy the summer shade. You should pick a site with moist but well-drained soil somewhere under a tree or shrub. Even the shady side of your house would do well for them. 

Snowdrops flower early in the year so you should plant them where you can easily see them. The edge of a path works well or even someplace visible from a window would work. Plant snowdrops in groups of 10 to 25 or more which will help in making a good display. 

Snowdrop flower bulbs are dormant by late spring and will rest underground until next year. In the summer, you need to be careful because you might mistakenly think that bare ground means nothing is planted there and accidentally dig up your snowdrops while planting your annuals, harming bulbs along the way and disturbing their rest. 

To avoid any accidental disturbance, you can try planting ferns or hosta next to the snowdrops in late spring. The summer growth from these plants will conceal the bare spaces over the dormant snowdrop bulbs. 

When to Plant Snowdrops 

The best time for when to plant snowdrops is in the early fall. You will need to be quick in buying them, as they will only be available from your local nursery or mail order company for a short period of time in the autumn, due to the fact that they are sold as undried bulbs that do not store well. 

Steps for Planting Snowdrop Flower Bulbs 

To plant snowdrops: 

  1. Loosen the soil and add compost or dried manure and 5-10-10 granular fertilizer. 
  2. Mix the soil until everything blends together, with no clumps of compost, manure, or fertilizer. 
  3. Plant the snowdrops with the skinny nose up and flat base of the bulb down into the soil. 
  4. Set the bulbs 5 inches (13 cm.) to base, which amounts to only a couple of inches (5 cm.) of soil above the bulbs. 

Remember, you can use snowdrops as cut flowers; they just aren’t very tall. Use a small vase and put the vase on a small mirror for a nice display. Using this information about snowdrops, you can enjoy these petite pretties year after year.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Information About Snowdrops And When To Plant Snowdrop Flower Bulbs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/snowdrop/information-about-snowdrops-and-when-to-plant-snowdrop-flower-bulbs.htm

Winter Maintenance for Gardens and Flower Beds

Information gathered from Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Eight tasks for the winter season to ensure your landscape is ready for spring growth.

Remove finished and dead plants

Overwintering plant litter can harbor pests and diseases. Tilling under pest and disease free litter is another option. Replenish your compost pile. Remove diseased litter to promote good sanitation and to prevent future problems with pests.

Address weed problems

Remove and trash or burn those pesky weeds. Keep in mind, weed species can overwinter in compost piles, so be cautious. Breaking the overwintering cycle is a key method to controlling weeds.

Maintain soil for spring

This is the best time to add soil amendments such as composted materials. Another way of replenishing nutrients like nitrogen in the soil is through planting cover crops. An inexpensive way of controlling and removing weeds, weed seeds, and disease agents is by soil solarization.

Prune perennials

Winter is the best time to prune within your landscape and flowering beds. Shrubs and trees require periodic pruning to remove diseased or dead material, to help control and direct growth, and to prevent potential hazards. Ornamental grasses are best pruned during the spring. Divide and plant if one has perennial bulbs. Late fall and winter is the best time to divide and plant. If it blooms on “new” wood, prune it in winter and spring. If it blooms on “old” wood, prune it in summer and fall. It’s essential that you prune after flowering.

A composting bin with lawn clippings.

Build compost

Nature is always working even during winter. Finished compost can be used as a soil amendment. Litter from the finished garden can be used replenish the compost pile. Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Mulch

Adding mulch helps to manage soil moisture. Mulch can also help to manage soil temperature and to add organic material to the soil profile as well. Adding a good layer of mulch around dormant perennials can prevent potential winter damage during very cold months.

Evaluate your garden and flower beds

Determine the season’s best and worst performers.  Are there new cultivars available for next season? Potential problems can be avoided if you choose the “right plant for the right place.” Discover if there were any environmental pressures that caused problems. What about watering; an irrigation system might help. Were there any pests? If so, adopt trap crops and resistant varieties to help with pest control.

Maintain equipment and tools

Increase the life of equipment by cleaning engines, sharpening and oiling tools, storing garden hoses, nozzles, and breakers, and covering or insulating outside hose bibs.

Support the Montgomery Botanical Gardens when you shop on Amazon and a portion of your purchase will go to improve the Gardens.

1. Go to smile.amazon.com

2. Click the ‘Start Shopping’ button

3. Shop as usual.