ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — And, we’re off and running…

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ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press Drumstick primroses are an unusual type, but very hardy.

Time for all us gardeners to “get with the program.” Now that mid-April has arrived, there are lots of jobs needing to be done. The calendar says this year’s Arbor Day will be on April 26. Watch for free tree giveaways.

It’s OK now to trim the rose bushes. First of all, be sure to use a sharp pair of shears as you don’t want to leave any ragged cuts. Chose an out-facing bud and cut just above it on each stem. Any inward growing stems should be cut all the way down to the main trunk. The aim is to open up the plant so it gets good circulation. This will go a long way in helping to avoid diseases.

Continue to trim back each stem in similar fashion. Then you’ll want to clean up and trash all that cut-off material. Some may harbor diseases like black spot. You don’t want that!

You’ll want to finish your general cleanup. A lot of this will consist of cutting back any remaining perennial stalks. Carefully cut back most of the old growth on your clematis vines. Most types need some growth left near the ground. Usually leave two or three buds at the bottom of each vine. If these aren’t easily seen, wait a week or two and it will be. Rake the litter out of each bed.

Another chore is to pull out or at least cut all the old dead growth off last year’s potted annuals. Large planter boxes can hold a lot of expensive potting soil. To cheat on this, I usually dig only about a third of the old potting soil out and then replace it with new stuff. Most annuals don’t have roots that go down more than 6 to 8 inches anyway.

Speaking of annuals, don’t jump the gun! I’ve been seeing some very tender plants being offered for sale since April 1. That’s way too soon to expect things like geraniums to survive our chilly nights. Hold off on those until late May. You’ll be glad you did. I’m also seeing tomato plants for sale. Are you kidding me? Remember, tomato plants like warm temperatures, both day and night. That does not mean April … unless you live several hundred miles south of here.

Don’t worry if your lawn has a lot of snow mold. This is very prevalent right now — but will disappear on its own once we get more sunshine and warm temperatures.

Spring has definitely arrived as there are many things in bloom already. These include primroses, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses. Or as the English would say it: crocii.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to get those hummingbird feeders washed, filled and hung out. Remember the formula: 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve, cool and hang out where you can enjoy seeing them out your window. These little guys have flown a long way, so give them a real treat when they show up at your house. You’ll be glad you did.

• • •

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 to late October. Email eandtjcerny @aol.com.

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