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Nature keeps us focused

This Tamora rose wins the title of first full-size rose to bloom in Debbie's garden this year. (Photos:  Debbie Arrington)

Flower photos chronicle garden; share some virtual blooms

How are you celebrating spring?

Nature has not slowed down during our home-bound shutdown. Instead, she’s full steam ahead, popping out flowers and pushing out green leaves. Everything seems to be growing rapidly, as you’d expect during a “normal” spring.

Clivia loves the shade.
While taking this forced timeout from life as usual, this is a good time to get in touch with your garden. Enjoy the slowdown and take notes about what’s growing. If you haven’t already, start a garden journal, jotting down when things sprout, flower, harvest dates and more.

Or just take photos. Make a visual record of what’s blooming when. Then, share those cellphone snapshots with your friends by email or social media as virtual bouquets.

It’s amazing how many smiles you can multiply with a pretty plant photo.

A dear friend, Jan Burke, started doing this snap-and-post exercise during an extremely stressful time in her life, gathering snapshots of flowers on her daily walk. Since then, she’s posted hundreds of flower photos to Facebook as daily pick-me-ups that are always well-received by her wide circle of friends. They always make me feel better.

As a gardener, I also appreciate the visual evidence the flower photos offer. For example, I know for certain that Tamora, an Austin shrub rose, was in bloom March 20 – first full-size rose in my garden this spring – and I have the photo to prove it.

Last weekend, I went through my garden, snapping photos of every flowering example, big or small. I came up with quite a list, including some that are blooming extra early and others that seem late.

Narcissus looks so cheery, even on cloudy days.
Two other roses, both minis, joined Tamora in bloom. My list also includes: angel’s trumpet, azaleas, begonias, camellias, calla lily, cymbidium, clivia, crassula, crocosmia, freesias, geraniums, grape hyacinths, hellebores, lilacs, narcissuses, dwarf quince, strawberries and white wood violets.

Next week, that list will be much longer. Nature will keep us focused on small joys and the positives in life.

What's blooming in your garden? Show us. Send us your snapshots and we'll share with our garden community, too.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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