Garden Trend – Forcing Bulbs

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It’s the end of winter and with that has come an onslaught of dreary weather. We’re watching the tender daffodil stalks emerge, but it seems like months before they’ll be in bloom. Remember that cabinet with your extra vases collecting dust? Maybe you need to re-purpose the vase your Valentine’s Day flowers came in? We have the perfect winter project: forcing bulbs.

Forcing bulbs has become very trendy in the past couple years and it’s a trick that florists use to obtain hyacinths and tulips before their time. Fortunately the process is easy, you can do it in your own home, and it won’t seem like a garden chore. The first step is to figure out if your bulbs need chilling or not. Better Homes and Gardens has a great article that includes a chart for how long different types of bulbs need to be pre-chilled. If you already have spare bulbs stored in the refrigerator or in the basement, now is the time to put them in action! Otherwise, this may be a project to refer back to for next spring, when there is more time to chill the bulbs.

Once you’ve determined if your bulbs are ready to go, you only need simple materials and a small amount of space. You can force your bulbs in a container with potting soil or, as in the photo above, you can use a glass vase with small rocks or pebbles. There are also forcing vases that allow you to place the bulb on top, water, and go.

If you choose to use soil and a container: pre-soak the roots of the bulbs for a few hours. Place them in the pot and gently cover with soil. You can even layer different types of bulbs with larger bulbs close to the base of the pot and smaller bulbs near the top. It’s never a bad idea to include a layer of rock on the bottom on your pot for better drainage. Place the pot in a warm, sunny area.

If you choose to force the bulbs in a vase or glass container, the process is nearly the same. Soak the roots, line your vase with an inch or two of rock, and water up to the top of the rocks. Place your bulbs in a warm, sunny area and enjoy watching your flowers emerge!

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Spring Bulb Planting.”

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Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?

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We’ve all heard the expression “April showers bring May flowers,” but most probably aren’t familiar with the origin of the phrase and also question how valid the statement is. After all, we already have plenty of flowers in April between dogwoods, cherries, azaleas and the like.

It turns out that this popular idiom can be traced back to the 1300’s when a version of the phrase was published in Middle English. After that, various sources are found in England and Ireland where “April showers bring May showers” is pretty truthful. In these climates April does often bring periods of heavier rain and the phrase was probably used to give residents something to hope for during the cloudy, wet weather. However, this may not be the case in Winston-Salem where we have a higher amount of average rainfall in May. In April we typically receive 3.7″ and May we receive 3.86″ disproving the phrase we use so commonly. This month we have already received 2.09″ of rain.

It is also interesting to note that most flowering plants are more affected by warm temperatures when it comes to blooming time than rainfall. This spring is a prime example, as we saw plenty of trees flowering prematurely and daffodils sprang to the surface earlier than ever. Research shows that first flowering dates correlate with warm temperatures and the sooner temperatures rise, the earlier plants bloom. As was the case this year, having warm temperatures early can be detrimental to flowering plants, especially for crops such as apples, peaches, and cherries. If plants begin flowering prior to our last hard frost it will result in cold damage to foliage, flowers, and developing fruits. While it’s fairly reliable to say that if our average spring temperatures continue to warm we should see earlier and earlier flowering, it is unclear what the long-term results will be or if certain plants that require a chilling period will stop flowering altogether.

Sources:

http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/winston-salem/north-carolina/united-states/usnc1469

https://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/do-april-showers-bring-may-flowers/

http://feelingsandflowers.com/136/april-showers-bring-may-flowers-%E2%80%93-discussing-the-rhyme/

2016: Climate in Review

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Since we have been posting updates about significant weather events and the climate throughout the year, we thought January would be the perfect time to recap and see how 2016 turned out, locally and globally. Though on a global scale this was a third straight year of record heat, for the U.S. 2016 was not a record topper. Still, 2016 was the second hottest year on record (which spans 122 years), was the 20th consecutive year of above average temperatures, and Alaska and nighttime temperatures were notably high. According to NOAA, last year’s average temperature was .07 degrees higher than last year, while according to NASA there was a .22 degree difference. Scientists are blaming 2016’s warming trend both on man-made global warming and on El Nino.

This year also brought the 4th consecutive wetter than normal year in the U.S., according to NOAA. This is coupled with widespread drought, meaning we are seeing more rain in shorter periods of time resulting in damaging flooding events. Last year brought forth many destructive weather events including flooding, wildfires, drought, tornadoes, hail storms, and Hurricane Matthew.

An intriguing study reports that with a projection of moderate climate change, Earth will see a loss in mild weather, on average 10 fewer days by the turn of the century. This varies by region, with some areas actually seeing an increase in mild weather. Overall, this could still result in less enjoyable weather and agricultural damage from an increase in disease and insect pests.

What’s in store for 2017? The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a warmer and wetter start to the year, followed by a cooler and drier spring. The almanac also predicts that the summer will begin cool and wet, but by September we should warm up with lower precipitation than average.

Sources:

http://www.journalnow.com/
http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/us/4

Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Sunflowers”

Spring has Sprung!

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It appears that the groundhog was to be taken seriously this year as spring has arrived in full swing! Temperatures have swelled to much higher than average and have been right around record breaking, not that anyone’s complaining. Long-time residents of North Carolina may be questioning if these sweltering temperatures are here to stay, as we are often prone to a late frost or even snow. While the week has been extremely pleasant, it does seem that the weekend will bring on a regression to more normal temperatures before bumping back up into the 70’s. Warm temperatures and longer days have caused several plants to break into full bloom, most notably the tell-tale signs of spring, daffodils and crocuses. Species of cherries and magnolias are very apparent right now, with maples and redbuds not far behind. Unfortunately, unseasonably warmer weather will also bring about an unseasonably early allergy season. A surge in pollen production is already visibly apparent.

How will this weather affect the homeowner? If you have yet to have Larmore Landscape Associates prune your crape myrtles, roses, or ornamental grasses, now is the time! These plants need to be pruned before they begin putting out new growth, and in some cases that has already begun. With these high temperatures we are seeing plants break dormancy before they typically would. Make sure you are beginning your lawn care program! Your turf should have been aerated and seeded in the fall and now that you have a strong stand of grass to work with, you want to maintain it by having us spray for weeds. Remember, with the grass actively growing that means the weeds will also be actively growing. If you would like Larmore Landscape Associates to schedule any of these services, give us a call at 336-765-6340 and we will be happy to help!

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Photo Credit: From our Pinterest board “Fall Bulb Planting”