By Julie Francke, Curator of Horticulture Education
PART III OF A THREE PART SERIES
The last week of the Spring Gardening Mini-Series concludes on April 11!
If you have a shady garden, but find yourself envying your neighbor’s sunny flower beds, be sure to join us on Thursday, April 11 for “Gardening in the Shade” from 1–2:15 p.m. during the last leg of the Spring Gardening Mini-Series.
Ginny Pearce will inspire you with ways to create a beautiful shady sanctuary that is cool and inviting during a mid-summer day. She will introduce you to a wide variety of plants that thrive underneath the canopy of trees—from plants that provide colorful foliage such as European ginger, Japanese forest grass, variegated Solomon’s seal, and hostas to those that offer splashes of color—such as astilbe, anemone and hardy geraniums.
Gardening in the shade can present a unique set of challenges—competition from tree roots and varying levels of shade determine what will thrive. According to Ginny, the key is to match a plant’s growing preferences to your garden’s natural conditions. Garden smarter—not harder.
During “Rhododendrons and More” from 2:30–3:45 p.m., Jeri Kiel will dispel the myth that rhododendrons are difficult to grow in West Michigan. According to Jeri, if you purchase hardy varieties and pay attention to their physical requirements, “you’re golden.” She also suggests keeping the motto “buy local” in mind when selecting rhododendrons. Plants produced by local nurseries have been carefully chosen to thrive in our climate and are already fully acclimated to our conditions. Why waste your time and money on plants that won’t succeed?
Jeri will also introduce you to the rhododendrons’ gorgeous relatives—azaleas, mountain-laurels and even decorative varieties of blueberries. They’re beautiful and easier to grow than you might think.
Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension Educator said, “Pruning can be one of the most perplexing rituals for the spring gardener because pruning requirements vary with each species.”
In “Pruning Trees and Shrubs” from 4–5:15 p.m., Rebecca will take the confusion out of pruning and discuss the best timing, tools, and techniques.
Simply noting when a shrub blooms can reveal when it should be pruned. Shrubs that flower in the spring, such as forsythia and lilac, should be pruned after they bloom. Those that bloom in the summer, such as rose-of-Sharon and Annabelle hydrangeas, should be pruned in late winter or early spring. Rather than getting out the hedge shears and carving your shrubs into “meatballs and tuna cans” she will provide alternative techniques that will bring out their natural form and help maintain a desirable size. Whether you’re a “reluctant pruner” or an “overachiever,” this class will help you prune with greater confidence and skill.
Spring Gardening classes are also available on April 9. To find out about these classes and how to register for any class, follow this link.