"April showers bring May flowers" and by looking around our Rim communities that seems to be true, at least for this year.
Longtime residents remember spring rains, cooler temperatures and higher humidity than we have experienced the past few years, so this year's spring weather gives hope for a productive monsoon season as well. All sorts of native wildflowers are in bloom now, from the tall bright red penstemon to the low mounding lavender sand verbena, with our glorious orange California poppies filling the space between.
The key to lush early spring flowering lies in planning ahead, by planting seeds in the fall or winter, or buying flowering shrubs and perennials in the spring and summer when they become available.
A visit to a nursery now will provide the opportunity to buy plants that will continue to bloom for a while, but will burst forth next year at this time.
Also, plants are arriving daily that will begin blooming in a few weeks and bloom well into the summer.
Flowering shrubs add interest to the landscape, by producing blooms, seeds and occasionally fruit. Some, such as forsythia, bloom early on bare branches, and others have foliage that will change color with the advancing seasons. Deciduous plants lose their leaves in the winter, adding a structural element also. The new Randall Park which features the Original Pine Library is nearing completion and is being planted with native shrubs and others with historical significance. The hard working "Take Pride in Pine" volunteers have researched which plants will do well with little maintenance and upkeep after they are established. The goal in developing the little park is to give residents and visitors a place to pause and relax and enjoy a bit of Pine history.
Forsythia, lilac (Syringa), Cliff rose, (Cownaia Mexicana), Russian sage (Perovskia Atripicifolia) and three leaf sumac (RhusTtrilobata) are among the plants chosen for the project. These plants are known to be tough, drought resistant, and some have tremendous historical significance. Early settlers often brought cuttings of lilacs and forsythia from gardens elsewhere.
The gardening principles demonstrated in the small public space serve as a sound example for all Rim country gardens. Volunteers have grouped plants with similar water needs together, used rocks and gravel as mulch, and installed a drip system that will be turned off and on manually as the need arises. The park has been developed as a public place for visitors to rest and relax and eat their lunch in the shade provided by three canopies, which are placed over picnic tables.
Other tough shrubs that will thrive in our Rim country environment, and that are available commercially include: Leadplant, Amorpha species; Sagebrush, Artemesia filifolia; Saltbush, Atriplex; Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus; Rabbitbrush, Chrysothamus; Cliff rose, Cowania mexicana; Apache plume, fallugia paradoxa, New Mexico privet, Forestiera neomexicana; Hesperaloe; Buffaloberry, Shepherdia argentea; Yucca; and Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus.
Tending to a few maintenance chores now will prevent problems later on.
- Pests: Hand pick and destroy grape leaf skeletonizers, and use insecticidal soap on spider mites that may be attacking evergreens. Keep an eye out for borers, pine tip moth and bark beetle.
- Feed: Side dress roses with rich compost throughout the blooming season.
- Plant: Vegetable gardens, heat-loving annuals, perennial flowers.
- Irrigate: Check drip systems weekly for leaks or malfunctions. Monitor water needs of plants before turning system on. Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulching discourages weeds, holds in moisture, keeps roots cool.