Perennials: If the perennial bed has good form and shape, it will include interspersed vertical, horizontal and mound shapes to hold it together. Plants look better in groups of three or five, not one here, one there or side by side. If your garden has limited space, look for the new dwarf varieties of tall plants. Dwarf conifers make a handsome addition to a perennial border.
Flowers: Hybridizers continue to develop fantastic colors in zinnias, coleus, the Calibrachoa ‘Superbells’ series and angelonia, and don’t overlook annual flowering vines beyond morning glory. Dramatic container plantings can include both perennials and annuals.
Vegetables and fruits: Make a garden plan so that families can grow together. Plant potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant together; cucurbits and legumes in their area; and garlic, onions and leeks in theirs. Plant lettuces and herbs throughout the garden to attract beneficial insects. It is not as easy as it sounds, but worth the effort.
Trees and shrubs: From now until the middle of April is the time for the all-important horticultural oil spray. When air temperatures remain above 40 to 45 degrees for at least 24 hours, the dormant spray season begins. The spray must dry on the plant without freezing. This spray application is highly recommended for fruit trees, lilacs, euonymus and privet to control scale and, with caution, on spruce to control spruce gall aphid and hemlocks to control scale as well as the wooly adelgid. The oil spray smothers the eggs of overwintering insects.
Lawns: Do not work on the lawn until it is dry and firm. Keep an eye out for areas that were dug up by moles looking for grubs. These areas can be treated later.
Houseplants: Variegated tropical foliage plants need bright light to keep their colors vibrant. If grown in low light, the variegation will fade.
General: Order the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Directory for a schedule and description of local gardens open to the public during the spring and summer. Go to www.opendaysprogram.org or call 888-842-2442.