Get your garden ‘party ready’ for spring

Gary Jones

Fri February 27, 2015 10:49am

Spring is the best time of year for a garden party. Outdoors there are layers of fresh, bright green foliage, vibrant colors and mild temperatures. The holidays encourage us — Purim, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day are all ideal outdoor spring celebrations.
How do you make sure your garden is party-ready? First you’ll want to do some after-winter tidying up. Spend a pleasant afternoon in early March removing any dead or damaged branches on shrubs and trees. It’s a good time to do some plant shaping too. You’ll also want to trim last year’s growth of perennial flowers. Simply cut back stems to just above new spring growth.
If you’ve lost plants after last fall’s hot weather, replace them. Now is also a good time to remove tired old plants that aren’t healthy. You’ll be amazed how much this can improve the look of a garden.
Next decide where your garden needs color. Plant these areas with bright annuals. They acclimate very quickly and provide instant color. It’s best to plant warm-season flowers now. They’ll take occasional spring heat waves and will bloom through the summer.
Top choices for spring and summer flowers are petunia, impatiens, begonias of all types, New Guinea impatiens, cosmos, marigold, lobelia, ageratum, foxglove, marguerite, roses and many others. Visit your neighborhood garden center for inspiration. Add pots of flowers in areas that can’t be planted — patios, decks, balconies and courtyards. Pots overflowing with colorful plants soften bare walls and walkways and provide privacy. If desired, an entire enclosed garden can be created with plants in containers. For your spring garden party, you’ll need outdoor furniture of course. Places to dine as well as areas to sit and relax. Today’s garden furniture is sturdy, weather-resistant and every bit as comfortable and beautiful as indoor furniture. It may be time for a furniture update.
A quick way to refresh furniture for spring is to add lots of colorful pillows. Don’t forget to repeat or complement the colors of flowers you’ve planted. Last, don’t forget outdoor décor. Door wreaths, lanterns, table decorations, water features, candles, and vases filled with cut flowers will all contribute to your spring garden party.
Gary Jones is the chief horticulturalist at Armstrong Garden Centers. Email him your gardening questions to growingdialogue@armstronggarden.com. Or contact your local Armstrong Garden Center.