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A colorful spring for flowers

M.G. Gallagher

It was a fantastic May for the transition from winter browns to the surrounding of color we live in. Spring here is so nice because the early pale green of the aspens is such a select shade. The most vivid memory of my father’s landscape paintings from my early childhood are the early season aspen leaves of his native Colorado.May was cool, and it’s been cool for part of early June. This gave us an extra long view of the spring flowers that usually are more spent.Tulips and daffodils form a body for spring bulb color. In areas that are not bothered by hungry deer and other critters, tulips give us an incredible splash that not much else can. Daffodils are not tasty to animals, and are the route to go if you live in the animal-salad zones.The town of Avon has established some excellent spring plantings, and the color choices sure seemed to be right on the money. (The tulips back in the Mother’s Day edition of the Daily were also courtesy of Avon.) The recent weather is also conducive to planting, as there isn’t a lot of daytime heat. The plants stress less (if any), and remember, hardy perennials can go in the ground well earlier than now.Here are some timely tips that apply to gardens here:Russian sage is one of those perennials that prefer to be planted before fall. As it isn’t fast growing early in the season, you can give it a head start by getting it into the ground now. Be patient and give new (and established) plants time to take off, as they look like they’re dead when they’re not. After time, true dead growth will be obvious.At this time of year, established ones look dead for a while, then new little stems start to pop out of old growth. Once Russian sage takes off, it continues with momentum. Water it too much, and it will become leggy and large. Very low water will tend to keep it compact. A little water is just right.Another slow starter is the Shirley poppy. I’d get them going from seed now. The intensity of the colors is worth the wait. Shirleys are one of those flowers that are far better off grown from seed, as plants grown from flats tend to stay much smaller and scraggly. Shirley poppies are an annual, and will reseed themselves to a degree, but to ensure a year-after-year display, reseed annually. The bulk seed is very inexpensive.Another poppy that is easy to grow from seed is Iceland poppy. You can start it now, and it is a very hardy perennial. A bonus is its first-year flowering. Icelands are a good choice for the colder end of the valley, whereas Shirleys thrive in hot, dry weather, and are a good choice for Eagle and Gypsum but do quite well throughout the valley.”Rocky Mountain Gardens” is a column especially written for planting in our montane and foothill areas. Much of the information comes from working with a variety of plants in this county, and input from many other long-time professionals here in Eagle County. Thanks for all for the positive input!M.G. Gallagher writes a column on gardening and landscaping for the Daily. He can be reached at montanegarden@excite.com


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