Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Flowers arrive early in Atlanta

Wow, the color in Atlanta. Spring flowers are as early as I can remember, and the scents are incredible. I started this post on the 15, but the pictures and details are relevant to 25 March 2009.

This year the freezing temperatures earlier in the year may have set the tone for a wonderful spring season. In some areas frost damage caused a lot of damage to plants, stems, and leaves. In other areas, you would never know their had been a freeze at all.

The Cherry's are spectacular now. Yoshino, my favorite tree, has burst out with huge blooms in Atlanta this year. The Weeping Variety of Cherry's are in full bloom as well.

I noticed the Clematis Armandii have started, and some of the Viburnums are beginning to put on a show. Oh, the smell will be great in a few days. Lets pray for any freezing temps heading our way to pass us by.

I have seen Cross Vine, and Azaleas starting to open up. Soon the Rhododendrum and Mountain Laurel will start to open if the temps stay warm. The Jasmine carolina has been in bloom for a week already covering fences, arbors, and pergola's. I love the soft texture of the confederate variety which may start early in April at this rate.

The Bradford Pears are all but finished now, and many trees are pushing out their leaf canopy. As far as pruning in Atlanta in concerned, I would not prune very much on Cherry trees at this time. Some twiggy or smaller crossing limbs can be removed from the interior, but I would wait til autumn to prune more than that due to the borer season moving in now.

The pest are attracted to the strong scented sap of Cherry's, and can easily invade a weakened tree due to drought stress from last year. Technically, I have heard we are still in a drought, so trees may feel that stress more than we know. Many other trees are likely to attract borer infestation, such as Dogwood, Apples, Plum, and other fruit trees, as well as the other flowering fruit trees.

Crape Myrtles have been hit hard by the Ambrosia beetle in past years. This pest can attack many trees and woody shrubs, but tends to show their love for Crape Myrtle in the landscape more noticeably. As the weather warms more, and the beetle digs into a stressed tree, they must push the sawdust out their entrance hole. As the dust is compressed inside the tree, and it starts to push out, it will resemble tooth picks. Some will curl a little, and break off from the slightest touch or rain fall. Once the beetle is in the tree the battle is lost.

In the case of Crape Myrtles, you can simply cut the tree down, and new sucker growth already present by the time you recognized the tree declining, will make nice replacement trunks for your Crape Myrtle to start over. If the beetles invade your Cherry, the tree may lose the battle completely, but not in all cases. Every once in a while I will find an old Cherry tree, with open holes and rotting wood, yet the tree continues on strong and full of energy. Poor drainage kills the trees in Atlanta faster than borers in many cases. So don't lose hope if borers invade your property. Just wait til autumn to do more of the larger limb removal on the flowering and fruit trees.

Enjoy the scents of the spring in Atlanta. As the Viburnums start their part of the show, you will notice a wonderful fragrance if your anywhere close to them. We have a wide variety of plants in bloom now. I recommend visiting you nursery center, and writing down the names of those varieties you would like to buy later. Seeing the plant in bloom is always better than the tags hanging from a limb on the plant material in nurseries.

The Anise floridia is another wonderful plant for interesting flowers. The reddish color is hard to beat at this time of the year when there are very few red plants at all in the garden.

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