Nursery Notes: Spring brings colour to Creston Valley gardens

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It is early May in a very dry spring so far! I spend most Aprils watching the rain clouds pass overhead while wearing a touque. The hand-cranked sidewalls of the greenhouses need constant adjustment to get just the right temperature. Not this year!

Freshly leaved-out maples offer a variety of leaf colour. There is a glorious Drummond maple by the corner of the nursery parking lot. Bright two-tone leaves contrast pleasantly with the darker green of neighbouring trees. Crimson king maples offer a dark maroon leaf colour. We have one for shade growing smack dab in the middle of the nursery. Princeton gold maples offers a bright yellow leaf colour. All three are, in fact, grafted Norway maples.

The pink dogwood beside the nursery office is looking its best these days too. It offers a great floral display now, as well as pretty cool fall leaf colour and an interesting shape for winter.

Around town, people are seeing the Japanese flowering quince, with bright red or orange flowers. We had a hedge of them in front of the house I grew up in. The flowers will attract hummingbirds. Chaenomeles are often referred to as japonica, which pretty much refers to any plant native to Japan. Many native Canadian plant species are named canadensis, like the eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis.

Dry weather will help reduce fungal growth on outside plants. Diseases like apple scab, brown rot of soft fruits and grey mould of strawberries should be naturally suppressed this year if the weather holds up. Farmers won’t have to spray as much. There hasn’t been any frost for a few days now, so with the snow melted off the mountains it’s pretty safe to put the garden in. Most years, I plant mine when the nursery slows down early June. I still get a good harvest as the warm soil and bright sunshine gets everything off to a good start. For Father’s Day, I plant some colourful annuals.

I like mass plantings of drought tolerant plants, thick enough to keep the weeds down. Then it’s only a matter of getting the gardens watered once a week to keep them all looking their best. Happy planting!

Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.