What Is Flowering In Early April -- Western United States

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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 western 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 western 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.

Several really nice flowering shrubs are flowering in the lower Mid-West. Korean Spice Viburnum (V. carlesi), brilliant flowering quince varieties (Chaenomeles), Forsythia and P.J.M. Rhododendrons are budding and blooming. The spring flowering trees are beginning their parade of flowers, starting with Star Magnolia (M. stellata), Yoshino Cherries (Prunus x yedoensis), Weeping Cherries (Prunus subhirtella) and the wonderful hybrid Prunus x 'Snow Fountain'. Maximum enjoyment can easily be achieved by growing several different flowering tree species and cultivars to extend the bloom time from weeks to months. Even with today's smaller garden areas, the home gardener can select smaller growing types and still enjoy weeks of additional landscape color.

Hardy enough to easily handle the upper Mid-West's conditions are the mid-size Serviceberries (Amelanchier). The home gardener can add multi-season effect because these native trees have a berry set attractive to song birds and bright fall colors. The Star Magnolia are beginning to bloom now with their lovely fragrance that perfumes the garden. Another small tree that is durable for northern gardens is the Nanking or Manchu Cherry (Prunus tomentosa), one of the earliest cherries to bloom. Forsythia, both the traditional yellow flowered and the much less seen White Forsythia, known botanically as Abeliophyllum distichum, is adding much needed color. Fragrant Viburnums, with many new selections and hybrids add equal parts of garden magic in their blooms and fragrance. By planting V. x burkwood types for early to mid April, V. carlesi or x carlcephalum types for late April to early May, the landscape can be perfumed for weeks and weeks.

The desert Southwest is such a diverse area, depending especially on the elevation of the garden, determines what is blooming at which times. Fairly consistent for early April color is the emerging Cactus, which produces light or abundant flowers depending on the amount of rainfall last year. The reliable red-flowered Ocotillo blooms from the end of March through April depending on location. Early flowering species Creosote bush and Whitethorn Acacia add much needed coloration. Warmer areas are enjoying Bougainvillea, Oleander and Hibiscus with their large masses of color.

Southern Californians are reveling in April's colors in a multitude of Azalea varieties, Camellias, Cherries, Coral Bells (Heuchera), Iris, Lilac, Penstemon, Roses and Wisteria. Of special note are the native California Wild Lilac or Ceanothus and its many, varied, fragrant species and cultivars which are gaining in popularity for their distinct blue and purple colors but also as attention is turning increasingly to sustainability and natural plants that have adapted to the environment making them more disease, insect and drought tolerant.

Northern California landscapes are seeing most of the same plants as those listed for Southern California. In addition a lot of color is added from early Rhododendrons, Magnolias of many types and Purple Leaf Plums (Prunus).

The Pacific Northwest with its mild spring weather conditions is alive with bloom color from earlier flowering ornamental trees such as Flowering Dogwoods(Cornus), Magnolias of many species, hybrids and cultivars, Flowering Cherries (Prunus) of a number of species and selected cultivars and hybrids. While we may only notice Rhododendrons when they are in bloom, their evergreen qualities add substance to the garden throughout the year. Growing a variety of species, cultivars and hybrids can easily extend the bloom time for the group to 6 to 8 weeks throughout much of the spring. For smaller plants, flowering shrubs are adding their special dash of color, texture and shape to the landscape. Lovely suggestions include the native Camas or Camassia quamash, Lilac Daphne or D. genkwa, Hebes of many colors, a diverse group of Spirea (Spiraea) that can range from low-growing ground covers up to full size shrubs and Viburnums, many of which are fragrant to the point of almost being too much if inhaled too deeply.

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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