What Is Flowering Now In Early April

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As a lifelong Horticultural professional, Vicki Smith (http://www.LGYP.com) has news about what is flowering during early April across the eastern U.S. and guidance for growing these beautiful plants in the home garden.

As a lifelong Horticultural professional, Vicki Smith (http://www.LGYP.com) has news about what is flowering during early April across the eastern U.S. and guidance for growing these beautiful plants in the home garden. With so much focus on outdoor living and container gardening, these colorful trees, ornamental shrubs and evergreens will bring excitement to the landscape, patio, and deck or in raised planters.

Throughout the Southeastern United States hybrid evergreen Azaleas are beginning to dazzle winter-weary gardeners and nature lovers. One of the delights of Azaleas is a staggered mix of varieties so there can be Azaleas blooming in the landscape for 6-8 weeks. Typically evergreen azalea blooms are in the cool color ranges of white, pink, rose, red, lavender and purple.

Glorious flowering trees, many of which have been in bloom for weeks, are continuing their show. Red and White Redbuds and selected cultivars (Cercis Canadensis), small and large Magnolias of multiple species and hybrids, native white, pink and red Dogwoods (Cornus florida), Ornamental flowering pears (Pyrus calleryana) and graceful Flowering Cherries (Prunus) of many species, including several notable hybrids provide many weeks of incredible beauty. The spring garden can have lovely trees blossoming for months instead of weeks by planting several species of trees or several selections within a species.

The Mid-Atlantic region is coming into bloom. Forsythias throughout the differing parts of the geographic region are at various stages of bloom. As a consistent harbinger of spring, the rich golden-yellow brightness can be enjoyed longer by choosing several different varieties to extend bloom time. The earliest evergreen hybrid Azaleas are just beginning to show color. To try to sort out confusion: botanically all Azaleas are Rhododendrons but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. Don't let this technical difference slow you down; enjoy both the early blooming Azaleas, generally smaller growing with smaller leaves, planting several different groups to extend bloom time and enjoy the later blooming Rhododendrons, generally larger growing and larger leaved, when they bloom in late April and May.

In the same family as Azaleas and Rhododendrons is Pieris japonica, known also by the common names of Japanese Pieris and Andromeda. The Blooms are white, pinks, and reds, in prominent cascading panicles for several weeks. Some cultivars have rich fragrances that add another nice dimension to the garden.

Magnolias are in color and can be enjoyed for the darker colors on their buds and the lighter tones of the opened flowers. There are a multitude of Magnolias that are hardy to the Mid-Atlantic region. Simply planting several different species, cultivars or hybrids can easily allow the homeowner to enjoy the wide range of colors they offer longer. Much breeding work has been done, much by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that has resulted in interesting, powerfully colored, smaller growing hybrids ideal for today's smaller landscapes.

Flowering Cherries(Prunus) are starting to blossom and bloom are different levels depending on where the garden is within the diverse region. Flowering generally peaks the first week in April for the most famous group of Cherries in the US at the Tidal Basin, around the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.

With the long winter officially over, the Northeast is continuing to enjoy the late winter, early spring blooming Witchhazels (Hamamelis), many of which are also fragrant. With so little color in the winter garden, the landscape can easily be enlivened by enjoying several different Witchhazels to add other bloom colors and extend the overall blooming of this interesting group of plants. Generally yellow-blooming the Witchhazels are followed by golden-yellow flowering Forsythias, brightening up the landscape on still cloudy days.

Home gardeners are just beginning to see landscape color on flowering trees. Magnolias typically start to bloom first, since there are so many choices in species, cultivars and hybrids. Even in smaller residential yards, it is still easy to enjoy Magnolia blooms longer by planting several smaller growing selections to stagger the blooms.

Ornamental Cherry trees will at least be beginning their blooming cycle depending on where the gardener lives in this diverse region with many hardiness zones. Cherries (Prunus) have many different species, cultivars and hybrids with typical tree shapes as well as dramatic weeping cultivars that can stop traffic at their peak.

Many of the trees, shrubs and evergreens mentioned are quite low-maintenance, many native plants, often needing only to be planted in the right spot originally and occasionally be given more mulch and a little fertilizer. With dramatic, easy to grow plants that add color to the garden for weeks or months on end, it can be very satisfying to enjoy spring's new energy and reap the results of just a small amount of effort as the gardener views the garden throughout the gardening year. Once a home gardener gets the "gardening bug", the time and effort can easily be seen as fun. Focusing on garden accents, even if it is just one specimen plant that adds one ornamental characteristic at a time, will be a delight to your senses week after week.

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STEVE CISSEL

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