ELAINE CERNY: Do April showers bring May flowers?

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press Yellow tulips with lots of blue scilla make a nice combo.

It seems like we’ve had plenty of rain, so if the old adage is true, we should be blessed with LOTS of flowers. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Many early spring bulbs and perennials have been blooming for a while now. I’m seeing bunches of crocus, scilla, and primroses, among others. Daffodils and tulips are starting to pop open.

If you like annuals that seed themselves, here are some that are reliable for me: cosmos, larkspur, love in a mist (aka nigella,) short yellow snapdragons, amaranthus (aka love-lies-bleeding,) cleome and annual poppies. With these, you won’t need to buy so many annual plants every spring.

With it still being too early to do much in the way of planting, you can always put that energy to use another way …cleaning up the yard. Get out the rake and do the flowerbeds and then the lawn. If you have pine trees, you won’t run out of needles to rake up. They do make a good winter mulch, but now that’s over with, so they need to go.

If you have started seeds indoors, continue to encourage them to grow with lots of light, water when needed and fertilizer. The same goes for any started bulbs and tubers. These will all produce much faster than those seeds and bulbs not planted until late May or early June when they can get started outdoors.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to divide any overgrown perennials. Just dig up the whole clump and pull it apart. If that doesn’t work, you may need to slice through them with a knife to get the desired pieces. Replant and they should be off and running.

Most of our local nurseries opened the first of April, so take advantage of them by visiting and drooling often. Go ahead and buy perennials, but hold off on those tender annuals … unless you enjoy putting them outside every morning and bringing them back inside every evening for another five or six weeks.

Many varieties of songbirds have returned to our area. If you enjoy having some nest in your yard, be sure to clean out those birdhouses. They don’t want to stay in a messy birdhouse any more than you’d enjoy staying in a messy motel.

Speaking of birds, the hummingbirds are due back for their summer visit very soon. They usually show up in mid-April so you may want to mix up some food for them and hang out a feeder or two. Remember to make it by boiling a cup of water to which you add a fourth cup of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Do NOT add any red food color as that is toxic to birds. If your feeder has any red parts, they will find it easily enough. If not, just attach something red such as a ribbon or silk flower.

Here’s a bit of sage advice: plant salvias! Some sages are called salvias and some aren’t, but they’re all easy to grow and bloom reliably. Hummingbirds love them too, so how can you lose? The dark purple ones look especially nice if grown next to something tall and yellow such as a yellow “KnockOut” rose or coreopsis. These are good perennials and will reward you with a long blossom time each year.

Keep this sage advice in mind: Give a weed an inch and it will take a yard.

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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