For The Garden | Spring is in the Air
Advice and musings on spring planting and the season itself from New Orleans garden pros
Spring is here and as your joyous work begins, here are a few tips and thoughts from some of the city’s top gardeners: Amy Graham, director of horticulture at Longue Vue House & Gardens; Chase Mullin of Mullin Landscape; Kurt LeBlanc, manager of Harold’s Plants; Tom Wolfe, owner of Urban Roots and Kathy McNamara, New Orleans Botanical Garden’s horticulture manager.
What do you love about Spring?
Graham: “The birds are singing, the insects are buzzing, butterflies are frolicking and people are excited to be outside. Planting is one of my favorite garden tasks. Who doesn’t like digging in the dirt?”
Mullin: “I love when the plants come out of ‘hibernation,’ and the dull shades of green become more vibrant, flowers bloom, the trees push their new leaves and the scents of many plants are as vibrant as the colors.”
LeBlanc: “I love the first glimpses of blooms in late February and early March. You know spring is around the corner when you see Japanese magnolias crack open and then within weeks you see a pink carpet of petals all over your sidewalk and cars.”
What’s your go-to spring plant?
WOLFE:“Petunias are a great spring flower. There are lots of colors to choose from and they are easy to grow.”
McNamara: “I think violas are very nice; also petunias and larkspur.”
Graham: “I adore our native hydrangea. It’s a dramatic, showy shrub with sturdy upright branches supporting 8-inch shimmering white blooms from Spring until
August. It’s a must for pollinator gardens because the cover, blooms, seed and foliage serve birds and lots of insects.”
Top Gardening Tip
WOLFE: “Plan ahead and decide what you want to grow. Gardeners tend to buy everything they see and find a space for them later. Planning makes sure you stay on track and on budget.”
McNamara: “Right plant; right place.”
Mullin: “Don’t wait. Our climate allows us to plant year-round, so I typically suggest planting in the winter so that the new plantings are well-established before we enter into the heat of summer.”
LeBlanc: “Soil preparation is the most important. Just like people, nutrition is key for all plants and that comes mostly from the soil.”
If you could only buy one garden tool what would it be and why?
Mullin: “A tiller. Proper soil preparation is one of the keys to a successful garden.”
LeBlanc: “Without a doubt, it would be a Hori Hori knife. It’s more than just a gardening knife. One side you can dig with to plant smaller plants and one edge side is serrated so it can be used to cut roots or divide up clumps of plants.”
WOLFE: “A garden hoe. They are the most versatile underused tool out there. They break up soil, edge, weed and kill zombies!”
So let the planting begin and here’s to a beautiful and bountiful season!