JoAnne Skelly: Spring revelations

JoAnne Skelly

JoAnne Skelly

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I’m outside with my laptop writing as I listen to bird songs and appreciate the colors of hyacinths, violets, forsythia, Oregon grapes and the last remaining daffodils.
The sand cherries are just starting to bloom. I have seen lilacs in their full glory in town, but here in Washoe Valley it may be another couple of weeks or more before ours bloom.
While some irises will open in a few days, and others don’t even have flower buds yet. The lanceleaf coreopsis are only about three inches high and will provide lovely sulfur-yellow flowers in June to July.
Spring is a revelation each year. Since our site can be quite harsh, I never know what will come back. I have high hopes for the ranunculus, but they may have emerged too early and been knocked out by the low 20-degree temperatures of the last few weeks. After all, they are “iffy” in our zone to begin with.
I was surprised to lose a lavender plant as I mentioned last week. But not when I saw the ground around it full of vole holes. I haven’t yet seen the two milkweed plants I planted for the Monarch butterflies. I do hope they come back. I’m thrilled to report that the crocosmia my friend Peggy gave me last year have returned, so I am looking forward to bright red amazing blooms on waving stalks in June or so. The deep yellow yarrows seem to be thriving and their two-foot-tall flower stems will add color and interest well into the fall.
The hardy geraniums have reseeded or spread throughout the flower beds. However, it will be a while before their magenta flowers reveal themselves. These dense-growing plants are great at keeping out weeds.
Speaking of weeds, I’m keeping my eye on the white and green variegated bishop’s weed, also known as ground elder. Just like the name implies, these creeping plants takeover without vigilant removal. Another pushy aggressive plant is snow-in-summer. I love the gray foliage and bright white flowers, especially in the moonlight, but I mercilessly rip it out in the fall so other plants, such as the violets, stand a chance of survival.
Other plants that regrow no matter what are rhubarb and Russian sage. After redoing our patio a number of years ago, I thought we had eliminated all the rhubarb. No. It’s still comes back every year. I made the mistake of planting Russian sage near the patio and it is coming up between the pavers, not something I want.
Oh, the joys of gardening.
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor & Extension educator emerita at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email


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