Over the past few days we Oregonians have been basking in an unusually warm bit of February sunshine. Most Februaries we get a week of sunshine, but the temperature rarely gets above 45 degrees. We enjoy the sun and then sink back into the rest of our gloomy overcast winter and spring.
What a treat this year to feel a little warmth as well as sun, but don’t let it go to your head by planting every annual you can get your hands on at the local big box store. Monday when a client came over to feast her eyes on my winter garden, she asked if I was concerned by the early warm weather.
I replied “No, all the plants that are blooming now can take 60 degrees in the day and then a drop to 35 degrees at night.” They may be early by the calendar, but they’re listening to Mother Nature and following her cue. The real danger is when we silly humans decide to run out and buy plants that shouldn’t even be for sale until after April Fool’s Day, such as the cheery annuals and oh so tender perennials like begonias that beckon us to step out on the wild side and see if we can get away with it.
Let’s talk reality. Our no frost date is May 15th. I know we push it to April 15th with some success, but February 15th will never work. What can we plant now? Primroses, pansies, hellebores, bulbs that are growing in pots, and any flowering shrub that is growing outside at the nursery are safe bets for late winter. If you spy a lovely little Azalea in full bloom at the supermarket, buy it if you must, but treat it like a nice bouquet of flowers and display it in the front hall.
Here in Oregon we have five months of spring, February through June. Each month has its own visual treats for us. Don’t jump ahead and fawn over things that will die while missing what’s out there now for us to enjoy.
Ann is a resident of Hillsboro and has been a practicing landscape designer for the past 14 years. Please feel free to contact Ann via her web site at www.ann.nickerson.net or by phone at 503-846-1352 with your comments or questions.