Merrimack Valley Life

GARDEN MUSINGS

Hopping into a spectacular spring

Pansy faces are beautiful and available in many colors.

Pansy faces are beautiful and available in many colors.

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” —Alfred Austin

It seems everyone has a little spring in their step come the month of April. The days of extreme cold should be behind us, and the gardens are coming alive. Every time I walk around the gardens in my yard, I notice the plants that were given to me by friends, and these gifts serve as

reminders of their presence. One of my gardening pleasures is sharing plants. Last year, a friend dug up a piece of a black raspberry bush. I hope the plant fared well this winter and bears fruit to produce berries as large as the harvest I enjoyed last season.

The orchard is budding, and I can’t wait for the riot of pink and white blossoms to decorate the field. The fruit trees’ flowers deliver a sweet aroma that fills the yard with a most pleasant scent. The bees will be doing their job to pollinate and enjoy the sweet nectar, which they’ll bring back to the hive to eventually make the gift of honey.

One of my favorite places is the greenhouse. On sunny days, it feels like the tropics. Haverhill Life photos by Carol Buzzell

One of my favorite places is the greenhouse. On sunny days, it feels like the tropics. Haverhill Life photos by Carol Buzzell

The greenhouse is a work in progress! The seedlings are growing quickly, and before I know it, I will be hardening off the seedlings to add to the gardens in May. “Hardening off” is a term for describing how to adjust the plants to sunshine when transitioning them from a closed-in area such as the greenhouse. If you do not give the seedlings time to adjust, the plants can be burned by the sun. The wind can also break the tender stems and set back growth. I try to set the plants in a partially shaded and protected area or choose a cloudy day to make the transition. It can be very disappointing to grow plants from seeds and have them die. Hardening off is a preventative mea- sure that gives seedlings a fair chance at success.

For those of you who want to start a flower garden, there are many considerations to think about: for example, location and how the garden fits into your landscape. When creating a flower bed, consider a mix of perennials and annuals. I also like to include some shrubs and grasses to add height and assorted shapes to the area. Think about how much light or shade is in the spot you have chosen. You also must turn the soil well and make sure that you have dug down to a substantial depth of at least 12 inches. Once all the sod and potential weeds are removed, fortify the soil with some peat moss and a good dose of slow-release fertilizer. Then have fun choosing from the many plant varieties. You can add embellishments such as a birdbath or trellis for clematis, morning glories or other climbing plants. The choices are endless; let your imagination soar, and be creative in designing a space that will enhance your landscape.

 

 

As you know by now, I am crazy about gardening. I struggle to drive past a garden center without stopping. My husband, Mike, will wholeheartedly agree. I just love to get outside and dig in the earth, plant flowers, and grow my own fresh produce. Happy spring!

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