How Does Your Garden Grow?

Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) in the Grabell garden

Purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) in the Grabell garden

Louise Grabell

Pinal County Master Gardener

Gardeners arise! Spring is in the air. There’s work to do and it’s still cool enough to work outside without fear of heat stroke. Ready, set go: finish all pruning of shrubs and trees; amend garden and vegetable beds; transplant perennials; check irrigation for function and leaks and treat yourself to a new pair of garden gloves. You may even treat yourself to a new shed to store your equipment! Make sure you know the shed site prep cost before committing!

Citrus should have been fertilized last month. Winter damage will quickly disappear when empty stems produce new leaves. Citrus should not be pruned unless a branch is dangerously located. Fertilize citrus next around Independence Day. Bougainvillea should be cut back to live stems-which are green just under the bark. March is a good month for planting new trees and shrubs as there are still two months until hot weather and plenty of time for roots to establish with proper irrigation. Remove any plants that don’t make you happy: like plants that have been over-pruned and have lost their natural shape, or shrubs that have overgrown their usefulness or have become bothersome. Remove and improve!

Furthermore, thanks to the lighter, balmy evenings, I even enjoy spending time in my garden in the evening. The only thing is, I do really need to invest in some new outdoor lights. One of my friends has suggested I check out a company called Lighting Distinctions, they are recommended for outdoor landscape lighting and can design and install garden, pool and patio lighting. I’ll definitely have to take a look to find out how they might be able to brighten up my outdoor space.

At this time of year I like to think about perennials for the flower garden. Many wonderful perennials do very well in the high desert and some can be naturalized among other landscape features to add blasts of color throughout spring and summer. One of my favorites is the purple coneflower (Echinacea) which also comes in pink, white, yellow and red. This plant loves direct sunlight and the clumps enlarge every year. They are tall and should not be planted in the front border, growing at least three feet high. With regular irrigation and fertilization, purple coneflowers bloom in early summer and if dead-headed, will produce even more flowers. Finches and other birds love the spent blossoms where a huge pom-pom of seeds is available. In fact, leave the seed heads on the plant for as long as you can stand it and your garden birds will thank you! And, you will probably be rewarded with new purple coneflower plants elsewhere in your garden. Large clumps of Echinacea can be divided in early spring and I can hardly think of a number of plants that would be too much for any garden. They are basically carefree as long as you provide well-drained soil. They make good cut flowers for your vase. What’s not to like? I love to sit in the wood Adirondack chairs we have in the garden and just admire the beauty of the flowers. I occasionally get to see some birds nip down too which always puts me in a good mood. It’s very peaceful just sitting in the garden and being surrounded by beautiful flowers is great. The most important thing to remember about growing flowers (besides regular irrigation) is to fertilize frequently. That’s the secret to a beautiful flower garden-and good for veggies, too!

The Master Gardeners of SaddleBrooke invite you to visit their website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our very own SaddleBrooke Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem. Your SaddleBrooke Master Gardener volunteers are here all year round to assist with any plant or landscaping problem.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden. If you want to take better care of your garden it might be a good idea to consult with Kentucky Lawn Care Companies. They have some fantastic ideas about how to improve your garden.