10 ways to kick-start your spring garden
What to plant now for a garden full of beautiful blooms, abundant edibles--or both
Triple-duty beauty: We’re big fans of scarlet runner beans. The fast-growing vine (it covered our trellis in two months) pumps out gorgeous, hummingbird-attractive blooms that develop into tasty young edible pods and shellable beans later.
Grow it: In spring, sow seeds 1 in. deep, 4 to 8 in. apart, in full sun. Provide poles or trellis for support.
When they started the garden, Greenfield, a longtime gardener, focused on planting as many crops as possible; Uang, an architect, wanted to make sure everything looked good. She came up with an overall plan, then brought in collaborators to complete their vision.
Now the couple can harvest something whenever they’re hungry‚ whether peppers for lunchtime salads or melon for dessert; even their 18-month-old daughter helps with picking. And by having edibles in front, they’ve met neighbors who grow food too, so they now swap crops. “Every season is a learning experience,” Uang says. “It doesn’t matter what you grow as long as you give it a try.”
Espalier: Serving as a fence at the property edge, a 30-ft. steel espalier supports 6 fruit trees: Asian pear, ‘Bearss’ lime, blood orange, cherry, European pear, and ‘Pixie’ mandarin.
Other materials: River rock, decomposed granite, and concrete pavers keep the space tidy and easily accessible for tending.
Grow it: Plant seedlings 18 to 24 in. apart in full sun, in rich, well-draining soil. Or plant in a container at least 8 in. deep and 16 in. wide.
Grow it: Plant seedlings in a container at least 8 in. deep and wide, filled with fresh potting soil. Display them in a spot that gets full sun.
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Whether planted in a container or as a low hedge, new ‘Peach Sorbet’ blueberry adds drama to your garden. It grows to just 2 feet tall, but its summer berry crop is abundant. brazelberries.com
Grow it: Plant in full sun; give it moderate water. Fertilize in early spring with a granular or liquid acid fertilizer. Prune to shape in winter.
Grow it: Plant in sun to light shade, in rich, well-draining soil; space plants 8 to 12 in. apart. Water regularly.
Grow it: Plant in full sun in well-draining soil; moderate water. Fertilize in early spring with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Grow them: Set out plants in a spot that gets full sun (Buddleja can also take light shade), in soil that drains well. Once roots are established, most take moderate water; give sunflowers regular water.
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Grow them: Pick pots with ample drain holes and use fast-draining potting soil. Set in full sun. Water well, then only when top several inches of soil are dry.
Container at left (clockwise, from bottom left corner of pot): Aloe humilis (6 in.); Phormium ‘Guardsman’ (5 gal.); Leucadendron ‘Wilson’s Wonder’ (5 gal.); Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (1 gal.); Echeveria pulvinata (4 in.); Aeonium leucoblepharum (6 in.).
Container at right (clockwise, from bottom center of pot): Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ (1 gal.); Sedum adolphii (4 in.); Coprosma ‘Evening Glow’ (1 gal.); Chondopetalum tectorum (1 gal.); Echeveria ‘Coral Glow’ (6 in.); Kalanchoe ‘Fantastic’ (6 in.); Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (1 gal.).
Owner Melanie Cross, who converted a lawn into this wildflower fantasia, has opened her garden to visitors on a Going Native Garden Tour. Armed with notepads and cameras, would-be native gardeners gather ideas and information for fall planting in their own yards. Fortunately, Cross is an enthusiastic evangelist. “I love native plants,” says Cross, who found inspiration for her garden in the fields around her childhood home in rural Southern California. “Wildflowers have evolved in this place. They’re important to birds, butterflies—the web of life. We humans take away from the natural habitat. I wanted to give back.”
Get inspired: Visit dozens of Bay Area gardens on the Going Native Garden Tour (free; gngt.org; at some sites, you can buy plants). For other tours, visit the California Native Plant Society (cnps.org).