The forecasters are predicting a “warmer than average” March and April for the northeast. Of course its the “average” part that will trip folks up. The sunny days that rise to a balmy 60-70 degrees tempt you to believe that spring has actually arrived. The snow thaws, the snow drops and hellebores awaken, and the peonies and hosta begin to show signs of life as well. And then, the inevitable happens–you wake up to predictions of plummeting temperatures, a hard freeze on the way, and even snow.
The safest time to plant all but the earliest, cold loving crops in North Country is the 3rd or 4th week of May–no matter how many warm days we have in April and early May. I was lulled into a false sense of security a couple of years ago and stupidly planted out the dahlias and tomato and pepper transplants, and paid the price. Not a mistake I care to repeat.
So I start sowing seeds with the end of May in mind. This weekend I will sow those plants requiring a 10-12 week head-start. Since I’m trying to cut down on the costs of buying perennials every year as I expand my flower gardens, I’ve started growing more of my own. I now dedicate at least two 20′ beds in the potager for the perennials. I let them over-winter for one year and then transplant them into the mixed borders in their second season. This season I’m growing coneflowers, Sweet William (also known as Dianthus and “pinks”), Lavender Hidcote, Lavender augustifolia, foxglove (a biennial), as well as thyme (I’m using it to edge my herb garden and rock garden) and the annual, salvia “Victoria” (the beautiful blueish purple variety). I’ll also pot out the dahlia tubers over-wintering in the basement (the beautiful David Howard (below), and the rather garish Floodlight, which Nora loves).
Spring is around the corner!