Is spring really here?

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Spring flowers add color to my new flowerpots. ELAINE CERNY/Special to The Press

I enjoyed painting these “denim” flowerpots. Projects like these make it a bit easier to pass the time while waiting for spring to actually arrive. March 20, on the calendar, is heralded as the official first day of spring but there are no guarantees that it will actually show up then. Keep your fingers crossed.

I’ve had cabin fever for so long that it’s beginning to feel normal. This was one long and beastly winter. The good news is that wells shouldn’t run dry for a long time and all the trees and perennials should start the new season in good shape.

Speaking of trees, now is a great time to do any pruning. Remember the old advice: trees can be pruned any time, except when they’re either losing old leaves or opening new ones. If you are unsure just how to go about this big job, go ahead and call one of the local tree companies. They’ll do the job right.

With this being the month for St. Patrick’s Day, no doubt you’ve seen “shamrocks” for sale in stores. These are actually oxalis plants. They are pretty easy to care for and make good houseplants. Don’t plant them outdoors and expect them to return year after year as they are not hardy for our area.

Care for these plants is easy. Just give them a window with good light. Direct sun isn’t necessary but it will aid in their flower production. About once a year stop watering them and put them into a dark place like a closet. Leave them there to “rest” for about a month. Then bring them back out, water well and return them to the window. They will put out new foliage and then lots of flowers.

It’s time to get those tomato and pepper seeds started, (indoors). Try to grow them in a cool room with lots of light. This will keep them from getting leggy. Go ahead and start those dahlia tubers and tuberous begonias. A cool bright window area works for them also.

Those of you who grow African violets may also enjoy growing some of their “cousins.” These include streptocarpus and streptocarpella. These plants will bloom year ’round if they get enough light. Another relative with an a strange name is episcia. This one does have a common name: flame violet. They have beautifully marked leaves and bright tubular shaped flowers. One plant can cascade down 2 or 3 feet over the edge of the pot. Very pretty.

Our lawns are going to need some serious attention if and when they finally dry out so we can walk on them. I’m seeing lots of moss already. Other problems will be crabgrass and newly germinated weed seeds. Hoeing and hand pulling weeds are preferable as the less we spray with toxic chemicals, the better for the environment. But for some stubborn grasses, you still may need to get a special crabgrass killer.

Hold off on pruning those roses until next month. We can still get some seriously cold weather, like it or not. Sadly, most of us are running out of patience.

Seen on a sign: “Does Running Behind Count As Exercise?”

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in The Press every other Sunday from early March until late October.

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