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Central Mid-Atlantic: March/April Gardening

A Virginia Master Gardener shares tips and gardening news for early spring

A common question

The question I’ve heard most often has to be how to deal with some very common critters in this area: moles, voles and deer. I have big trouble with voles in my own garden, and have used old fashioned bubble gum dropped into the tunnel holes with some success. Next year I’ll try a homemade castor oil spray remedy.

As for the deer, my husband and I were recently discussing this dilemma. He suggested remotely locating a salt lick to divert their attention away from foliage. After doing some Internet research, I found out there has been some success with this trick.

Top 5 to-do’s for March and April

  1. Making trips to the garden centers to peruse new selections and cultivars available. It’s always a treat to see the first flowers of spring.
  2. Planting any “must have” additions to the garden as early in spring as possible.
  3. Repotting, repotting, repotting… I grow several bonsai that need major attention in the spring.
  4. Cleaning up from winter damage.
  5. Fertilizing perennials and shrubs.

Recent gardening trends

Because in Richmond, Virginia, we are on the edge of the warmer Zone 7b and have had several mild winters, many gardeners are talking about experimenting with hardy tropicals that are typically planted in warmer climates, such as cold-hardy palms. Not such new ideas but gaining popularity are xeriscaping (dry gardening) and using plants requiring less water.

The biggest gardening challenge in this area

Our erratic weather can be a big challenge. We seem to be on the fringe for cultivating many things, including the elusive fescue lawn. Spring can be cool and wet, and suddenly the temperatures can rise to above 90 and stay there much of the summer. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation conserve water and keep the foliage dry to help prevent disease in our humid climate.

About Vicki

A Master Gardener since 2004, I have been gardening in Virginia for almost 30 years. The garden has held my love and interest since childhood. Several houseplants have been with me since college days and have grown to enormous proportions. I enjoy the landscape in all seasons and love trying new plants with special features and extended interest. As a career interior designer, I decided about five years ago to incorporate my passion for gardening by integrating landscape design into my practice. I focus on low-maintenance, permanent and sustainable plantings that ultimately follow the principles of living green. Photography is an also a great interest of mine, both professionally and for fun.

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