By early March we can start saying goodbye to winter and start gardening in earnest. Hopefully 2012 will be a wetter year than 2011. I measured 19 1/8 inches of rain in my gauge on Mission St in 2011. In the months of February through May and again in August there was no measurable rain in the gauge. November and December were the wettest months with 2 1/4 and 3 1/4 inches respectively. According to the paper, San Antonio’s average annual rainfall is 27.92 inches with only 14.88 inches received in 2011.

Valentine’s Day is almost here and marks the time to start trimming shrubs and trees. Trimming sparks new growth and that is why it should not be done any earlier. Any new growth will probably not sprout until about mid March which is past time of our usual latest frost. Shrub roses should be trimmed by about one half of their height, and any stems growing toward the center of the bush to promote air circulation. However, an exception is to wait until climbing roses finish their spring bloom before trimming them. Also wait until after the spring bloom of Mountain Laurel, Spirea (bridal wreath), and Flowering Quince. These plants bloom on last year’s wood and to trim them before the spring bloom would forfeit this year’s flowers. Shade loving cast iron plant, has generally suffered dramatically due to the prolonged drought. Roots should still be healthy so cut all the tops back to about one inch tall. A little organic fertilizer and just moderate watering will bring them back.

ConeflowerIn mid-March plant easy to grow flowering plants such as impatients, begonias, and Katy petunias for shady areas, and zinnas, periwinkles, and coneflowers for the sun. Of these only coneflowers are perennial. Coneflowers historically have been only purple, but new varieties are now yellow, red, and orange. However the purple so far are the only ones that seem to reproduce from seed. Easy to grow flowering evergreen vines are confederate jasmine (white flowers in early spring), Tangerine Beauty crossvine (tangerine flowers from early spring into summer), and butterfly vine (yellow flowers, midsummer to fall).

Now is a good time to fertilize flower beds, lawns, and ground covers with an organic granular fertilizer. Trees and shrubs need twice as much around the base as recommended for the lawn. If you want to wait a few days to see if Mother Nature will help out,organic fertilizers do not need to be watered in immediately because they will not burn plants as chemical fertilizers do. Repeat every couple of months.

I am thinking of experimenting with something I’ll call an electronic demonstration garden. Each week an email message goes out from the King William Association office to those who have asked to be on the mailing list, providing timely information to keep readers aware of neighorhood events. As I notice interesting garden related items I will submit them for inclusion in the weekly message. Such items will include where certain plants are blooming that readers might want to add to their garden. If you are not already receiving the weekly message and would like to receive it, call the King William Association office at 210-227-8786, and provide your email address.

Garden Note. As the garden grows, so does the gardener.