In the garden, March is yellow

  • By Steve Smith, Sunnyside Nursery
  • Monday, March 19, 2012 1:14pm
  • Local News

Editor’s note: Steve Smith of Sunnyside Nursery is sharing his regular gardening column with us. He writes about plants that work in our area and includes a handy to-do list to keep you on top of your garden chores. Watch for more columns as the gardening season really gets going.

Most of us identify the color green with the month of March, what with St. Patrick’s Day, but if you look around the garden it is pretty obvious that the predominant flower color is yellow. Here are four different plants in my garden that are bright and cheery.

Cornelian Cherry or Cornus mas if you really want the scientific name is a diminutive tree with dainty spidery flowers that blooms for almost two months. I have had one for 20 years now and it is only 12 feet tall, the perfect size for most small gardens. Now is the time to see them in the garden centers because once they go out of bloom you will never notice them next to all the other showy plants of spring. They are completely insect and disease free and need very little pruning to keep them shapely. They also produce a cherry that is adored by birds so what’s not to like about the Cornelian Cherry.

The shrub Forsythia has been considered THE HARBINGER OF SPRING by gardeners forever. Used to be that the only Forsythias on the market were the ones like grandma had that grew 10-12 feet tall and obliterated the front living room window but now there are easy to manage dwarf ones like Magical Gold that stays in the 5-6 feet range with enormous blooms and even a shorter one called Showoff Starlet that only grows 2-3 feet tall. All Forsythias can be cut back aggressively after bloom to generate new growth that will be covered with blooms again the following spring.

The partial shade loving Buttercup Winter Hazel has to be one of my favorite shrubs in my garden. Fine textured, good fall color, nice arching form, disease free and light buttery yellow blooms this time of year all combine to make this shrub a real keeper. If you are turned off by the gaudy golden blooms of Forsythia then opt out for this shrub. It is unassuming yet delightful.

Finally, who could have a garden without some daffodils? Whether you call them daffodils, narcissus or jonquils, they are all bright and cheery and for the most part naturalize and return every season all on their own. From the 6 inch tall species varieties to the hybridized 18 inch King Alfred, you just can’t go wrong with a daffodil. If you don’t like the looks of them dying down after they bloom then either interplant with some perennials or treat them as an annual and throw them away or put them in a container that you can move out of sight. And, if you happen to have issues with deer then rest assure that deer do not eat daffodils.

On the To-Do list for this week would be pruning grapes and kiwis. Both of these vines are aggressive growers and need serious pruning to keep them in check and to manage the fruit set. If you wait too much longer to prune them they will “bleed” for weeks and while this doesn’t seem to harm them you will feel terrible every time you walk by them. Prune lateral growth from the main branches back to 4-6 inches and space out the laterals to about one foot apart. When you are done there should be as many limbs on the ground as there is on the trellis. If this is totally freaking you out then come into the nursery and we will give you a demo.

Also on the list is planting the cool season garden which means getting the beds re-fertilized and re-composted and planting root crops, leaf crops and peas. Plant now or forever hold your peas.

Until next time, Happy Gardening

You can reach Steve at Sunnyside Nursery at 425-334-2002 or online at

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