What a wonderful time of the year! I love getting outside on warm days. Now is the time to clip away the dead growth on perennials, so the new growth makes them look fresh. Cut back roses if you haven’t already. Evergreen shrubs that are overgrown may be cut back severely now. I have cut back Japanese hollies to within 6-12 inches off the ground and they will come back thick. If they aren’t overgrown, a light shearing will be sufficient.
Pansies that were planted in the fall should be blooming now and need a top dressing of fertilizer, preferably slow release. Pansies may also be planted now if you want fresh color that won’t be killed by frost. They will bloom through June until it gets too hot. Pansies are a winter annual. Now is also time to fertilize perennials, shrubs and trees. Ornamental grasses, including lirope, will look better when new growth emerges if they are cut back now. Pull any weeds that have sprouted. Try to keep weeds pulled before they flower and produce seeds to keep weeds under control. Top-dress the beds with a fresh layer of pine needles or mulch. A preemergent herbicide may be sprinkled around shrubs and flowers to keep weed seeds from germinating.
Distylium is a new plant. It is evergreen and blooms from mid-January through March. Vintage Jade only gets about two feet tall and five feet wide. It is in the witch hazel family and has reddish maroon flowers. It will be a good foundation plant. Loropetalum Crimson Fire is a new dwarf, loropetalum. It has reddish purple foliage that remains all winter and grows 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide, making it a good shrub to put in front of taller shrubs. The foliage is a good contrast to plant in front of yellow or green foliaged plants. It blooms neon pink flowers in the spring. Both the distylium and loropetalum are mounding shrubs. Snow N Summer Asiatic Jasmine is a new evergreen groundcover. The new foliage emerges pink, turns a bright white, becomes a mottled white and green, and finally turns green.
Easter is arriving early this year. It will be the last day of March — March 31. Easter signals the end of winter to me, so I like it coming early. We have not had as much of a break after Christmas, though. We started potting mums, geraniums, gerberas, and princess lilies the first full week in January to ensure they will be ready for Easter.