What is that yellow plant that's so pretty right now? What's the name of those trees that bloom so early every year? Why doesn't my camellia bloom as profusely as my neighbors'? Why do my azaleas bloom in early April while my sister's bloom in May?
When is the best time to transplant irises? What is that incredibly beautiful pink flowering shrub that's blooming near the XYZ Bank? What do I need to do to make my dogwoods bloom like my grandmother's? It's spring; trees, shrubs, and flowers are bursting into bloom; and the questions are flying.
County agents, master gardeners and garden center employees are being bombarded with the "what is," "how to" and "why" type questions.
On last Saturday's Home Grown call-in radio show, Kellie Bowen and I had very little time to carry on with our usual foolishness due to the intensity of calls. Gardening questions are being asked in grocery stores, church hallways, parking lots and even between innings at baseball games. It's just that time of year. Beauty and blooms abound and so do questions concerning those blooms.
Now I have never been accused of being the great Karnac or any other kind of mind reader, but please indulge me while I attempt to head off some of the many often asked blooming questions at the pass. I do not seek to insult the intelligence of any of you dear readers by being somewhat remedial in this "answers before the questions were actually asked" dissertation, but every answer that you will read in the following lines has a question that has been asked of this country scribe dozens if not hundreds of times.
That yellow plant that has been blooming for the past couple of weeks is forsythia, also known as yellow bells. It is fairly easy to grow; it loves full sun, but will also tolerate shade. Once this blooming beauty is established, watch out, for it will grow and grow and grow.
Camellias and azaleas, for the most part, prefer filtered sunlight, slightly acid soils, and feeding or pruning immediately after they have completed their blooming cycle. There are two basic types of camellias that perform well in our neck of the woods. The camellia sasanqua blooms during the fall months, while camellia japonicas bloom from December through April.
Of course, the exact time of bloom depends on which cultivar or variety that you select or have growing in your yard. The early bloomers include the white Emmett Barnes and the red Daikagura, while mid winter bloomers are Dr. Tinsley (pink), Governor Mouton (red), and Leucantha (white). A late blooming japonica is Rev. John G. Drayton. There are many others that are well-adapted to our climate.
There are literally thousands of cultivars of azaleas. Many are adapted to Northeast Georgia but many others are not. Just because the amazing Pride of Mobile cultivar performs with style and grace on St. Simons Island doesn't mean that you need to plant 33 of them in your yard in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains.
There are azaleas that bloom in early April, others that do their thing in late May or June, and even some that bloom in both spring and fall. A little research goes a long way when making decisions concerning which ones to plant where and what you can expect from them once they are in the ground.
Questions concerning blooming trees often center around those that bloom early in the spring. Some of the first to present their flowers are the saucer magnolia and the star magnolia.
The saucer magnolia has a spectacular burst of late February or early March white to pink-purple blossoms but contributes little to the landscape after the flowers have fallen. The star provides fragrant white to reddish flowers in mid-February and follows with very coarse-textured leaves.
Another group of early blooming trees are the flowering cherries which include the Okame, Yoshino and Kwanzan. Their colors range from white to pink to deep pink.
There are so many other answers to so many other questions, but neither space nor time will allow me to guess any more questions or articulate any more answers today. Besides I'm due to be at a ballgame in a few minutes.
Oh well, maybe you will see me there or in a church hallway or in a grocery store. If you have a question perhaps I will be able to come up with an answer.
Gene Anderson is the interim Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.