It is early April but the weather is warm. The first asparagus spears have popped up in the garden. The apricot trees are in bloom. As per usual we had a touch of frost the other morning but I don’t think it was long enough to have injured the blossoms. The days are warm and the bees seem to be active. There is good reason to suspect another early year for the cherry crop too. While there is more snowpack than last year, we may hope that we don’t have such a bad fire season. Every year is a little different!
In the nursery, there are several plants in bloom, perennial plants like the primulas, bleeding hearts and doronicum, and hardy shrubs like the red flowering currant and the yellow flowering forysthias. Many trees even flower at this time of year, magnolias and maples, for instance. Some flowers are a lot more noticeable that others. One shrub in flower now is Fothergilla “Mount Airy”. It has creamy white fragrant flowers in the shape of a bottlebrush. It grows to about four or five feet in height and does well in the sun or shade. It has great fall colour, rivaling that of the burning bushes. When in flower it is quite distinctive but later folks often confuse the leaves for those of the witch hazel, an uncommon but dependable addition to the garden.
A couple of other notes on spring. A mild winter coupled with last year’s extra warm weather means greater insect pressure. Warmer weather means that pest problems that normally present themselves in mid-May, and may be upon you this week. Watch for them early, for instance, spruce weevils on the terminal leader (the top shoot) of your spruce trees. These are the bugs that lay eggs in the top of the tree. They hatch into worms that kill the top shoots and disfigure these beautiful ornamental trees. Now is the time to deal with them. One more note: You may also want to water in some of the evergreen plants you transplanted last year. The ground may not be as moist as it is normally at this time of year.
Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.