Every Yard Matters

Every Yard Matters

Welcome to the first week of April. We are on a bit of a roller coaster ride, with sunny days, a bit of cold rain, and fluctuating temperatures. Yet, here at Natureworks, we are continuing full steam ahead. The delivery trucks keep rolling in, and we have received so many new plants since last week! Our Hellebore selection is insane- probably one of the best collections in the state. We have over 20 varieties in stock now, including quart sized pots (think affordable), the gorgeous Frost Kiss series with pink variegated leaves, the Wedding Party series, and so much more. 
Check out the foliage on the Frost Kiss series of Hellebores that we just got in. Oh, and the flowers are pretty amazing too!

Plant Hellebores in your spring pots. Surround them with pansies, Bellis (English daisies), primroses, and Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’. When the hot weather comes, move the hellebore and primrose to your shade garden. That’s what I am going to do. Can you plant your pots this week? Actually, you can. If we get a really cold day, you can cover them with a cotton sheet or floating row cover. As long as you are using cool season plants, you’re good. And we’ve got plenty of them…

Who can resist this color? Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ is a perennial ground cover that blooms early and has great leaves all season. 
This Saturday I am joining my gardening buddy Sue Lavallee for a fantastic workshop at the Zion Episcopal Church in North Branford. We named the whole day GROW FOOD!  
It doesn’t get any more basic than this blank slate called my raised bed gardens. I started to plan in my garden notebook on Sunday. Working on rotating plant families.
In the morning, I am teaching a class called Month by Month in the Food Garden.  I will start in the winter and finish at Thanksgiving, explaining what to do each month to maximize your harvests of veggies, herbs, and small fruits no matter what size yard (or patio) you have. I sat down in my back garage this weekend, resting after cleaning my front and side garden beds. I am having two new raised beds installed in the sunniest section of my back yard. I am also adding more Smart Pots to the south side of my house. I realized that this weekend and early next week are the best times for planting peas, lettuces, kale, and other early veggies. So I grabbed my garden journal and sketched the existing beds. Talk about a blank slate! That is why Saturday’s morning class will be so useful. We are ALL in planning mode right now. Before we start, let’s get organized! In the afternoon, Sue Lavallee will be teaching Raised Bed Gardening. The last time Sue taught here at Natureworks, I took pages and pages of notes. She knows a LOT about growing food organically. Sue works for Coast of Maine and therefore is an incredible resource for all things organic. WALK INS are welcome for both classes. Why not bring a bagged lunch and join us? You will have plenty of time to hop up to Natureworks and shop afterwards. The retail shop and garden center are just a few miles away from the church where the classes are held.
Lettuce begin planting this weekend

This Sunday, Eliza Caldwell, who runs our Incredible Edibles department, is giving a workshop on planting Lettuce and Alyssum Bowls. Why lettuce and alyssum? It is a form of companion planting. The sweet alyssum is not only

pretty and fragrant, it also attracts a beneficial insect that controls a bad bug that eats the lettuce. I do a version of this in the Smart Pots on the south side of my  house. The photo on the right was taken a couple of years ago in May. I planted lettuce seedlings, lettuce SEEDS, white sweet alyssum, and sugar snap pea vines in the middle. This allowed me to continue harvesting lettuce for twice as long. As the pea vines grew, I added a 6′ tall bamboo pole tripod for them to climb on. They, in turn, shaded the second crop of lettuce (the ones I planted from seed) as the June heat arrived. There are a few spots left in Eliza’s workshop. See the details below and sign up today with a friend. 

Last week, Diane wrote a wonderful article on caring for your organic lawn in the spring. We sent it out as a Lawn Blast to everyone who asked to be on that list. Do you get the Lawn Blast? If not, you can easily sign up on our website or scroll to the very bottom of this email and click Update Profile. Meanwhile, you can read it now…
Lots of new peace poles are on display in our front garden.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing is to decide NOW that you aren’t going to put

toxic poisons on your yard this year. I totally realize many folks are under a lot of pressure from family members, even neighbors. Resist! We can give you all the information you need to make your case. My modest goal in owning Natureworks is to change the world, one yard at a time. Seriously. EVERY YARD MATTERSEvery yard, no matter how small. Every deck matters. Every patio matters. Every lawn matters. Every flower garden matters. Every veggie garden matters. Every schoolyard, park, hellstrip between the sidewalk and the road, traffic island, and field. Change happens one yard at a time. That’s all I ask. Once you start down the road of safe, sustainable gardening practices, teach others and remember we are here to help. 

Beautiful dwarf irises are up and blooming in my courtyard garden. They appeared immediately after I did my spring cleanup!

So after working outside for a long while, I came in the house and started decorating in earnest. I have been collecting our hand-painted Austrian Easter

eggs for a long time, and I decided to wait until April 1st to hang them from the light above my dining room table. Taking them out, carefully unwrapping them, and hanging them once again made me so happy. I have an entire big box of spring and Easter decorations. I am bringing them in a little at a time. My house is beginning to feel very bright and festive. 

This perennial, ornamental sorrel taste is tangy and has a lemon flavor. We love it in salads! It looks great in a container or as a perennial in your garden. 

This week we are getting in the first of our spring veggies. Lettuce (of course), kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and some unusual edibles such as collards, Welsh onions, gourmet dandelion greens, and bloody sorrel. We are also getting in some herb plants such as borage, chamomile, and lovage. Read my article below to learn about some of these unusual, incredible edibles. 

We have also just restocked all of our seeds. Since I haven’t planted my peas yet, my guess is many of you haven’t either. Don’t worry. Last year we couldn’t plant until late April. We are early this year! Once trick is to pre-sprout your pea seeds indoors in moist paper towels. Then, when you are ready to plant them, be sure to add legume inoculant and Organic Plant Magic. Voila! Other seeds to plant directly in the ground in April include radishes, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, and onions. 
Wrap your pea seeds in moist paper towels to pre-sprout them

We are also starting to build and stock our GROUNDCOVER department. Watch for my article on groundcovers coming out very soon in CT Gardenermagazine. What? You don’t subscribe? You should. It really is the ultimate resource for anybody who gardens in our state. 

Plant up your windowboxes with early spring color

So get yourself into Natureworks this week. Come to our two Saturday classes at Zion. Plant a lettuce and alyssum bowl on Sunday. Check out our lath house overflowing with tons and tons of Hellebores. Grab some spring veggies, herb plants, a spring garden basket, and some seeds. Pick up some organic compost and fertilizer to wake up your garden. Ask questions of my skilled, experienced staff. Wander the gardens and watch the bulbs emerge before your eyes. 

Join the spring celebration that takes place here every day. See you soon!
Lots of really lovely new garden statuary has arrived. And the purple Iris reticulata bulbs are finally up in the Natureworks gardens!
P.S. Tune into Facebook Live this Thursday at 4 pm and watch me plant porch pots filled with cold tolerant annuals, herbs, perennials, and bulbs.