We have had a fairly mild winter, but if you are like me you are looking forward to spring and warm weather.  But when is that?

Because of newsletter deadlines I happened to have started composing this on Ground Hog Day.  That got me started thinking about theories and tales of when spring starts and the danger of frost is past.  Here are a few.  I hope you find them somewhat informative and maybe even amusing.

Ground Hog Day is February 2.  I do not know how it got started, but up in Pennsylvania a ground hog named Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow and if he sees his shadow that means six more weeks of winter.  This year he did not see his shadow, so based on this “theory” we will have an early spring.  But Phil lives in Pennsylvania.  So what does that mean for us in South Texas?  We will have to wait and see.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  It is a day to remember that special someone in our lives.  It is also the day to begin work in the garden.  That includes trimming, fertilizing, and mulching.  Plants trimmed after Valentine's will usually not put out new growth until after the last frost, about the first week of March.  Wait until late in the month when the soil begins to warm to plant annuals.  New perennials can be planted as they become available in nurseries.

To me, roses are in a special class to themselves, and that is why they were not included in the list of preferred plants in last month’s article.  There are three old roses that are especially good for the home garden.  Once established, they grow with little care and repeat blooms from spring through fall.  They can be planted now and, like all roses, they need plenty of sun.  

There is a very informative website about native and adaptive plants for South Texas.  Plants are listed alphabetically with pictures and growing characteristics.  Go to growgreen.org, then click on Watershed Plant Guide.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  

With over five inches of rain over the last weeks of October and into November, flowerbeds and lawns have not needed much supplemental watering.  If you have an automatic sprinkler system it would be prudent to set it on manual to conserve water.  

As promised in the last newsletter edition, the following plants are suggested for those who do not have the time or inclination to spend much time outdoors.  The list includes adapted (not native) evergreens that will give a year-round permanent appearance to a garden, and perennials that add color a good part of the growing season.  All need little water once established.  Always consider the mature size of a plant to prevent overcrowding.