I love spring cleaning, indoors and out. So it's time to clean out the mailbox to answer several questions and to pass along some good suggestions.
Brian Elkins writes: "My mother would like to have some forsythia to put beside her driveway. I read a column of yours wherein you described using forsythia as a "great divide." Where can I get some for her? I would prefer to buy locally, but if it must be ordered, so be it."
There are numerous sources for forsythia - you need only look as far as most any garden center in town. Some of my favorite cultivars are Forsythia x intermedia, 'Spring Glory,' for its beautiful blossoms, Forsythia x intermedia spectabilis, 'Lynwood Gold' for its quick growth, and Forsythia 'Gold Tide,' which is a dwarf that grows only 20 inches tall with a 4-foot spread.
"I have been remiss in taking my bulbs up in the fall for the past two years. Now they are so compacted together, I doubt my blooms will be outstanding as usual. Can I dig them up after blooming, place in cool storage and replant in the fall? Also, what is a good fertilizer for my bulbs? I use Jerry Marsh's wonderful dirt and my flower beds have done really well," writes Betty Ray of South Charleston.
Summer is the dormant period for spring bulbs, so once they have bloomed and the foliage has died back, you can dig them and divide them. Store them in a well-ventilated place and replant in the fall. It's good to dig and separate daffodils and crocus about every five years, as it will encourage larger, more even blooms. Bone meal is a great fertilizer for bulbs left in the ground year-round. It's slow-acting and long-lasting and encourages root growth.
Charles McElwee has a catalog and book to recommend. "Kinsman Company's Gardener's Catalog, spring/summer 2008, (www.kinsmangarden.com) features side-planting container gardening, described as a revolutionary container planting technique developed by Pamela Crawford. Her recent book, "Instant Container Gardening," is highlighted.
"I ordered it (Kinsman item No. PCICG, $19.95), and I can say that it is among the most beautifully illustrated and informative garden books that I have seen. The photographs are worth the price .... I am confident that most people who see the book will have a new-found or heightened interest in this form of gardening. I highly recommend the book. Her Web site is www.sideplanting.com."
I have to admit, I've already ordered the book after viewing the Web site!