So much to tell all of you, about what is happening in the garden and as always, as spring arrives, a dearth of time to accomplish everything. Last week was very busy with Canada Blooms. That’s our huge flower and garden show that takes place in Toronto at this time of year. I was speaking about Garden Seduction, on their celebrity stage on Friday. Disappointing for those who came to hear about seduction in the garden when I was talking about how my garden seduces me to spend so much time in it. Then on Saturday I was giving a presentation to the regional Garden Writer’s meeting. I started with Eggplant, Aubergine, seeds and took them through the delights of this wonderful plant right up to an actual taste test of my eggplant fritters.

Now my readers can’t get the benefits of my cooking unless they duplicate it themselves, but you will get several other benefits from my attendance at this show. This is the occasion when many garden related companies provide products and information to the garden writers so that we can test them and pass on this information to you. I have a few new tools, several interesting plants and lots of other information that you will be the recipients of, over the next few months. I can tell you that the most interesting thing is what appears to be a wonderful new, hand propelled reel mower from the innovative folks at Fiskars. It finally overcomes the problem common to all reel mowers, by setting the wheels inside the cutting area so that you can actually cut right up to the edge of your garden beds.

What else did I see at Canada Blooms that was interesting. There were several versions of green roofs and the always fascinating huge floral designs. We all like to think we could make such arrangements if we had the space and budget that they require. Talent and imagination may be more important than space and budget.

There were a couple of very interesting gardens. One garden that featured several vegetables in its design also had a trail of various types of mushrooms, that meandered through it. Not terribly practical or achievable for most gardeners but certainly an innovative use of these culinary delights.

Back home in the realm of the possible, I am excited to report that my fancy and expensive Delphinium seed all appear to be germinating. If they continue to thrive I will have far more Delphiniums than my garden can accommodate. My gardening friends and neighbours will see this as very good news.

The Tuberous Begonias have been rescued from their winter hiding place. They get soaked in a shallow pan of water for a few hours and then planted in shallow pots or flats to get started. It is important to plant them so that they have about a third of the tuber above the soil line. This ensures that water does not collect and stand in the little indentation that indicates their top side. Water standing there can rather quickly cause rot to set in and that tuber that you carefully brought in and stored becomes so much useless mush.

My Witch Hazel, Hamamelis sp. is in full bloom. It reliably blooms in the middle of March regardless of the weather but in this years very warm days the blooms are even bigger and more interesting.

A few weeks ahead of their normal schedule the Crocus Thomasinianus are putting on a show in the bed under the Walnut tree. They are planted on a slope that faces south and this years intense March sun has noticeably advanced their bloom date. These aren’t the showiest Crocus available but they have two wonderful features. They multiply nicely and the squirrels don’t like them.

The garden centres and other retailers are starting to put out their seasonal stuff. I was in our local Home Depot a couple of weeks ago and was distressed to see a large cart of Roses already on display. They appeared to be excellent quality plants, bare root in tight plastic bags of damp moss. This is a quite acceptable way to merchandise Roses but they were almost two months too early. When I returned a week later they had sprouted significantly and were starting to touch the top of the shelves they were stacked in. Most of these sturdy well branched plants were receiving minimal light and too much warmth, creating elongated shoots that are going to be in trouble quickly. In our climate it is much too soon to plant them out. If our warm weather continues, highly unlikely, you might luck out if you plant one but in any normal year these plants would have a tough time thriving or even surviving. I bought one and am keeping it outside in lots of light but near the door, so that I can bring it in if the temperature dips below freezing. It is distressing to see good quality stock, poorly handled at the retailers.

Under the lights there is a wide range of cool season vegetables already germinated and more seeds following them every day or so.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Silvia asks? I'm starting to think about all my treasures laying dormant under that huge white blanket....hmmmm....last year I bought some daffodil bulbs and forgot to plant them. Can I plant them in the Spring or are they done for? Can I plant them in a pot? ?

Ken Answers! Sorry! Short answer is that they are compost. Even if they were in reasonably good shape they would not bloom if planted now. They must have a cold period of several weeks to initiate the bloom cycle.

Vivian asks? I think I have done something very bad to my two Rose of Sharons......I pruned it as it was getting too large for the space....but I did this in the fall!!! I was told I should have done this in the spring after bloom. So here's the question: * will it come back at all? * anything I can do at this late time?

Ken Answers! You are probably going to be very lucky. The standard rule with flowering shrubs is to prune them right after they finish blooming. This stops you from pruning off next years flower buds after they have formed. Rose of Sharon blooms mid summer because it develops its flower buds on the current year’s growth. Thus it is unlikely that you pruned off any of the flower buds. The plants should grow and bloom for you just fine. Almost any other flowering shrub would have been flowerless this coming summer.

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