Spring is here and we can plant anything that likes warm weather.

If it has been three months or more since you last fertilized your lawn and flowerbeds, now is the time.  Use a good slow release organic fertilizer.  Do not look for them at the big box stores because they do not normally carry them.  Organic fertilizers do not have to be watered in immediately after application if you want to wait for the next rain shower.

Some suggestions for summer garden color that will last into fall:  For sunny areas, plant periwinkles and zinnias.  Periwinkles come in white, pink, and red, while zinnias have a wide range of colors and heights.  Cut zinnias for inside arrangements and to keep the plants flowering.  For shady areas or where there is partial sun, plant begonias, pentas and impatiens.  All of the above plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  

Birds and the wind spread seeds of plants that we would not usually expect to find in our urban gardens.  I had a call recently from a Mission St. neighbor wanting to know what plant she had in her garden that when touched caused a very unpleasant burning.  Turned out it was a type of “nettle,” common in South Texas farmland.  An upright plant with yellow flowers, the stems have many, many barbs that cause the burning sensation.  The plant should be handled with thick gloves or some other type of protection.  I do not know what type of nettle this plant was, but some are perennial and form a bulb from which plants re-sprout in the spring.  They also reseed.  I have not heard of any other cases of it in the neighborhood, but be on the lookout for it.  This is one plant you do not want to see multiply in your garden.

The garden at Villa Finale, the former home of Walter Mathis, at 401 King William St., and now a museum of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has undergone an extensive upgrade.  Stop by and see the elegant formal garden.  When the gates are open, the public is invited to walk the grounds, at no charge.

From Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations: “Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more -- restful.”

Garden Note: Children are the gardeners of the future.  Teach them well.