Ah, it’s springtime! | TheUnion.com

Ah, it’s springtime!

John HartWhen Margaret Smith of Penn Valley (left) visited Oaktree Nursery in Penn Valley Thursday morning, employee Ron Stanley carried her plants to her car.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

By Grace Karpa/The Union

Curb your enthusiasm for curb appeal a little while longer, nursery workers counsel salivating gardeners.

But it’s hard to talk ’em down when they clamor for color, said Emil Baldoni, a Weiss Bros. Nursery owner.

“They’re anxious,” Baldoni said about customers seeking flowers to plant before the danger of frost has passed.

Spring has sprung and, for some, spring fever erupts in the urge to purge one’s flower beds and boxes, driveway medians and pots of weeds, leaves, needles and bare dirt staring you in the face every time you pull up to your house.

It’s spring time, according to the calendar, and you really ought to be able to get rid of of the gray of winter and replace it with pink impatiens and red geraniums. It’s an annual rite, and it’s time.

“Everyone’s anxious to garden, garden, garden,” said Mollie McClain, a “nursery lady” at Oaktree Nursery in Penn Valley.

Not so fast, plant purveyors warn.

The frost date – or the date predicted that new plants won’t face the threat of frost – is mid-April in lower elevation Penn Valley and a couple of weeks later in Grass Valley and Nevada City. Residents of Banner Mountain and beyond may have to wait until mid-May before safely planting flowers.

Eager gardeners often will buy plants and set them in the soil before they should, Baldoni said.

“Then they come back later all froze out. We talk ’em down until probably mid-April or so and then give up,” Baldoni said. “They want to plant.”

You’ll have to exercise patience before planting impatiens and geraniums, he warns.

Ron Stanley of Penn Valley’s Oaktree Nursery counsels caution to those eager to get their hands in the dirt.

Now’s the time to prepare the soil to receive bright-blossomed plants and to add soil amendments to beds – even though it’s not as glamorous as lining the driveway with pink and purple.

Lisa Dryden of Grass Valley came to Weiss Bros. Nursery to prepare for early dirty work. “I’m just sort of thinking, seeing what’s out there, and look at my beds and see what’s missing,” she said.

This year she plans to tackle a shady spot.

Margaret Smith of Penn Valley, a 20-year customer at Oaktree Nursery, perused pansies and petunias last week as part of her planning.”I’m looking for the easy stuff to do,” Smith said. “What I’m going to do this year is just plant in containers.”

Trish Zimlinghaus of Lake Wildwood came to Oaktree Nursery to solve a special gated-community-type problem: Fencing her yard to keep deer out violates Lake Wildwood codes, so she’s looking for deer-resistant plants to put in containers on her deck.

She came to the right place: the Penn Valley nursery has a fan-shaped bed planted in sample deer-resistant plants, such as wallflower, a tall plant with purple flowers; grevillea, oleanders, daphne, foxglove (“No one should eat foxglove,” McClain noted about the plant that contains ingredients for heart medicine digitalis), dianthus, Mexican mock orange and rhododendrons.

When the nursery opened March 1, few people came in shopping for spring plantings or soil, Stanley said. There was the one woman who came in during a hailstorm to buy pansies.

Most people come in in their old clothes and are”in a good mood,” Stanley said. “They’re not going to the doctor or to a lawyer. We only get one grouch a month.”

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