redbud mcb april 2014KENTUCKY (4/14/14) — The grass is green, forsythias, dogwoods, redbuds, crabapple trees, and tulip magnolias are blooming.

It must be spring!

Yes, the temperature is warming, allowing new growth to appear on roses, and spring blooming trees are showing off. It’s wonderful to see plants blooming and recovering from the harsh winter.

There have been questions about nandinas looking so bad and if they are dead or if they will put out new leaves for this year. "Firepower" nandina, which has colorful leaves in the fall and no berries doesn’t look as bad as the common Nandina domestica, also known as heavenly bamboo. Actually it is not related to bamboo at all.

There are seven nandina domestica at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden. They are being watched closely for any sign of life. Daviess County is in horticulture zone 6 and this is the upper limit for nandina, which fall into Zone 6 to 9. Six being the coldest and nine being the warmest. This doesn’t mean they can’t be grown here, but after this winter with the extended cold, it would be good to mulch them well this fall.

Nandina can be grown in full sun or part shade and can grow 6’ to 8’ high with less spread. It has small white flowers in May to June. New leaves are copper to purple red. In winter the leaves are red when grown in full sun. Gorgeous large red or orange panicles of berries make this shrub ideal for winter interest in the garden.

It is a good idea to make another tour of the garden to see what is now coming up and what will have to be replaced. Several people have lost rosemary and lavenders. The sages don’t show any signs of life either, but we will give them more time to put on new growth before it is decided whether to dig them up.

Even though the weather has gotten warmer, there will still be days when the temperature could get cold at night. That could damage any new growth on roses and perennials just coming up. Covering those special plants with a towel or blanket would protect them from any damage. It would be more difficult to protect the flowering trees.

We will just look forward to a better spring day.

Barbara Cecil Russ is a horticulturist for and charter member of the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden. She has 20 years experience as a UK Extension Master Gardener.

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