August 16, 2018
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Fear the Frost

Planting flowers before May can be a challenge

After the long and cold winter we have had this year, many of us are anxious to get out of the house and back to playing in our gardens. Especially with the unpredictable winter we’ve had, it is important to be cautious before going to crazy on planting things too early.

The warmer temperatures, the growing number of nice days, the home and garden shows, the magazines, and television programs all tempt us with beautiful flowers. The last frost in Evansville is traditionally around April 15, and most local garden centers shoot to have their inventories ready for Mother’s Day in early May.  

I’m not suggesting doing nothing before May; I am urging caution before investing in flowers that can get wiped out by a late frost. Many clients want their planters to look good in the early spring. There are actually quite a few plants that work well in the spring; it is usually just an issue with finding them available for purchase. Shrubs like azaleas or rhododendrons are usually the easiest plants to find.  Others like flowering almond, winter hazel, and quince all work well as larger base plants within the planter.

Perennials such as coral bells, ferns, Lenten rose, dianthus, and liriope are great options as filler plants in an arrangement. Pansies, snapdragons, and English daisy are my go to favorites for that extra pop of color. Although bulbs need to be planted in the fall to grow in the spring, they can usually be found ready to be planted. 

After I have the base of plants installed I look for ways to add interest. There are many options for botanical accents and sculptural elements that can either be bought or found to incorporate into an arrangement. Some of my favorite things to use are bundles of twigs, decorative spheres, dried flowers, and seedpods – pretty much any other sculptural accent I can find can be worked in. 

Brian Wildeman is a landscape architect at Landscapes by Dallas Foster Inc., 825 Canal St. He can be reached at 812-882-0719 and dallasfoster.com.

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