"For to a bee a flower is a fountain of life,

And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,

And to both, bee and flower, the giving and

the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy"

— Kahil Gibran

Flower Show alert

In the remote possibility that you have not heard that the Philadelphia Flower Show is underway right now at the Philadelphia Convention Center, this is a reminder.

There’s still time to visit. It runs until March 10.

The world’s largest flower show, since its first simple plant show in 1829, it has become a huge event in Philadelphia. The theme this year is “Flower Power,” a reminder of the Woodstock music event 50 years ago where this phrase caught on.

More info: 215-988-8800 or phs-info@pennhort.org.

Bird food

A new growing season begins.

Both resident birds and migrant species, which are returning from warmer climes, are looking for fields and forests, parks and open spaces that offer lots of possibilities for food, water and shelter for nesting. While in a pinch they might hang out in the local shopping mall or business campus, in populated areas, the most attractive options are residential landscapes where there are lots of plants that host various tasty insects and caterpillars and offer seeds and fruits.

Over time, special mutually beneficial relationships have developed between birds and plants. Over 300 trees, shrubs and vines in North America are happy to have the birds eat their fruits and seeds and, in return, disperse the seeds to help a new generation of plants grow. While in some cases the dispersal comes from bird defecation, usually larger seeds are dispersed by regurgitation. Some examples of these helpful birds are cedar waxwings, thrushes, catbirds, warblers and robins, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, bluebirds, juncos and goldfinches.

Seeds and berries

To enjoy and support the birds, try familiar, readily available shrubs and trees such as American holly, sumac, native viburnums, hawthorn, bayberry, red cedar (juniper), flowering dogwood and stem dogwoods, Oh, and just so you know, birds love poison ivy berries!

Time to:

• Plant pansies. They do not mind cold weather.

• Pull back mulch in areas where bulb foliage is peeking through it so the sun can warm the soil.

• Continue to feed your local birds. Natural seed sources are pretty depleted and nesting time is near.

• Treat crabgrass before forsythia blooms. Spread a pre-emergent herbicide on areas of the lawn where it invaded last year to kill seeds before they sprout.

• Aerate the lawn when the soil dries a bit and spread grass seed over bare spots — major overseeding and repair is best done in the early fall.

Soil help

Wood ashes from your fireplace and fire pit are useful in the yard as a soil amendment. Mixed into acid soil, they help make it more neutral to suit plants that prefer less acidity. Collect the ashes after they have completely cooled and hold them in a heavy duty plastic bag for later in the spring. Spread them where experience or a soil test has indicated there is acid soil, and mix them into the soil. Insert the metal probe of a houseplant water/pH meter into the soil to check its new pH level to avoid overdoing things.

Good news

For several years now, most nurseries have discontinued growing the hugely popular and easy-to-grow impatiens plant nicknamed "Dizzy Lizzy." Known formally as Impatiens walleriana, it developed a fungal disease that quickly destroyed young plants. Customers were warned not to buy them. Since then, BallFloralPlant, using sophisticated science, has made progress in solving this disease problem. Soon we may be able to plant this impatiens in pots, hanging baskets, window boxes and in the yard again.

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

comments powered by Disqus