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Get Your Garden On

It's time to plant flowers, amend the soil and get excited for spring.

The glimpses of sunlight this week have me itching to get dirty in the garden, but with rain on the horizon this weekend, I'm apprehensive about planting fresh little starts and delicate seeds in the muck.

I resisted the urge and instead went to see Gustavo Beyer.

Beyer, the owner of Alladin Nursery in Corralitos, is somewhat of a gardening therapist. First, he sat me down and told me I'm not alone. Everyone is coming in for instant gratification these days, he said. They'll buy anthing—hanging baskets mounding over with spring blossoms, ranunculus (those are buttercups to you and I) and cinerarias.

The rain has people aching for bright flowers, he said.

"The specific goal—color—it makes me smile all the time," Beyer said.

And actually, planting flowers is a good project right now. Mid-March is that sweet spot in the calendar when gardeners can select from winter flowers, perennials or annuals.

"It's still OK to plant snap dragons, pansies and violas," Beyer said, naming off a few flowers that will be on the do-not-plant list within weeks.

Perennials can go in the ground now as well. Those are flower starts you'll buy as greenery but that will later bloom. I picked up a half-dozen earlier this month to plant around some trees in our yard. They took a pummeling in the rain, but their leafy green leaves look a little bigger than last week, so the plants appear to be hanging in there.

Some annuals are also ready to get started. Try marigolds, alyssums or lobelia. The first two are known for their warm golden and yellow blossoms, though alyssums also come in white and blue. Lobelia flowers burst with rich blues, purples and reds.

"You plant them now and they will keep going 'til November, December," Beyer promised. "Later, do petunias, dianthus and asters."

Beauty-wise, you can't go wrong with any of them. Asters look like a cross of a Gerber daisy and sunflower, dipped in magenta paint. But ask about what works in your micro-climate before you buy flowers. Some require full sun, perfect for homes away from the ocean. If you're within the fog line—like we are—you'll want to migrate toward the partial- to full-shade varieties.

Beyer had a recommendation specifically for us less-sunny gardeners: "The No. 1 is impatiens for shade."

Find the flowers for your yard and garden at:

  • 2907 Freedom Blvd.; hours daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • , 1060 S Green Valley Rd.; hours 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays
  • (at Sierra Azul), 2660 E Lake Ave., 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • , 355 S. Green Valley Rd., hours 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8 am. to 8 p.m. on Sundays

If you're unsure of what you're doing, Alladin Nursery has several upcoming gardening classes. Call 724-7517 for more information or to RSVP.

  • , 11 a.m., Saturday, March 24: Learn how to make your own colorful flower pot. $20 fee includes all materials.
  • , 1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 24: Get an introduction to starting, pruning and caring for bonsai with expert Don White.
  • , 1 p.m., Sunday, March 25: Steve Goto, the talk show host of Garden Compass Magazine, will share how to best grow tomatoes. Cost is $15.
  • , Saturday, 11 a.m., Saturday, March 31: Larry Byers will teach you about the benefits of using organic fertilizers. 

The other garden project to work on right now is amending the soil with compost. Pick up compost at any of the above locations. If you need a lot and are looking for a good price, take your pickup truck to the , where they sell everything from wood chips to compost for as little as $16 a yard.

David H. Perez March 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I'm getting all excited too about planting my flowers, herbs and maybe a couple of tomato plants. My tomatoes did not do well last summer because of the unusually cool temperatures, but we can always depend on our flowers and a big assortment of herbs. Gustavo at Alladin Nursery is a wealth of information. He has helped me to resurrect my lawn, and we have many beautiful trees and other plants we have bought from him. BTW Jennifer - have you ever checked out Sierra Azul Nursery on Hwy 152? It's a great place to take a stroll through their gardens and art exhibits, and they are helpful and have beautiful plants to purchase.
Jennifer Squires March 22, 2012 at 04:53 AM
David, yes, I've been out to Sierra Azul before. We went for a high school art program (story here: http://patch.com/A-npXd) and the Sculpture IS exhibit (video here: http://patch.com/A-jmW7). I was thinking of heading out there to talk about succulents or garden art soon. What do you think? Good column topics?
David H. Perez March 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Definitely. And a much more positive topic than local politics!

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