Dishing the dirt on gardens

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When the home improvement stores have potted plants and flowers and bags of potting soil displayed outside, that can only mean one thing — spring is here!

Most people would assume that warmer temperatures are an indication of spring, but with little snow and mild temperatures it doesn’t even seem like we had a winter.

Growing up in Colorado, the only thing I liked about spring was the fact that the school year was nearing the end. It always seemed to me that spring wasn’t warm enough. After all, some of the biggest snowstorms usually hit in the spring. Not much of a spring to me. Then having spent most of my adult life in Las Vegas, we didn’t have much of a spring either. We’d have a few short weeks of mild temperatures, then all of a sudden temperatures were sweltering.

Summers in Las Vegas extend from April to October, and winters in Colorado last from October to April sometimes even into May. And they have been known to begin in September.

This brings me to my point. The stores are selling all the things one needs to get started gardening, but how is anyone supposed to start gardening when temperatures are still dropping below freezing at night? The ground is still too hard to start digging in. I think I waited until after Memorial Day last year to start planting flowers.

In Las Vegas, I remember being told that the time to plant roses was in February. I’m still learning what can and can’t grow here in Colorado. Out in the desert Southwest it took me many years to figure out what plants were drought-tolerant and could withstand the desert heat. There were many plants and flowers I wanted to grow out there but couldn’t. Two of my favorites that thrived out there were the Mexican bird of paradise, also known as red bird of paradise, and bougainvillea. Those two plants provided beautiful colors to the desert landscape. It’s not all cactuses like some people think.

I also had oleanders, Texas sage, rosemary and, of course, palm trees in my yard. None of which can grow here. I wanted a pomegranate tree in my yard, but my husband told me no because he didn’t want fruit lying all over the yard. As pretty as these were, they also wreaked havoc on my allergies. I never had allergies as bad as when I lived in Las Vegas. It was so bad I was forced to get allergy shots twice a week. My main enemies were the olive trees and the mulberry trees. Haven’t had those allergy problems here.

As I look out in my yard I’m trying to decide what I want to plant this year. I did plant some tulips last fall that I hope will come up this year, and there are daffodils in the backyard that come up every year. At least I think they are daffodils. I do plan to plant another rosebush, sunflowers, snapdragons and black-eyed Susans. I’m still trying to figure out if I can grow jasmine here like I did in Las Vegas.

Marigolds are a flower that I have given up on. They are probably the easiest to grow but I just don’t do well with them. I prefer violas or geraniums.

Perhaps it would benefit me to take a class or two on gardening. I want my yard to look like something you would see in a magazine.

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