Spring is a time of new beginnings. Perhaps there’s no better place to see this manifested than in the garden. And after last month’s freeze, neighbors are especially ready for blooms.
But colorful flowers won’t appear magically. It takes work and preparation to get gardens looking great.
Dave Forehand, the vice president of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum, says planning begins a year before neighbors are invited to see the spring display.
“You can’t just decide that you’re going to plant something and order it,” Forehand says. “You have to have it grown and ready.”
The Arboretum’s spring season, named “Dallas Blooms,” is expansive. More than 500,000 bulbs — including tulips, azaleas and more — come to life. And that’s not including the 125 Japanese cherry blossoms.
Plugs are delivered in August and September and planted in November and December so they’re blooming in February.
Forehand, who has been at the Arboretum for 21 years, says they have a bulb distributor who has the right credentials to purchase bulbs in the Netherlands. They’re ordered in spring, shipped across the Atlantic and are placed in a cooler for six weeks to chill.
The supply chain issues haven’t affected the Arboretum’s ability to acquire bulbs, but there is a shortage of seed and plastic, which is used in containers.
“Finding those is like the golden moment when you get your supply of containers,” Forehand says. “Because when you’re going to grow 150,000 pansies, you’ve got to have 150,000 little pots to put them in.”
There’s a shortage of plants in general, Forehand says, because gardening grew in popularity during the pandemic. That was intensified after last year’s freeze, which killed plants and forced people to replace them with new ones. And it’s still an issue to find large plants because people bought them up before they had a chance to grow.
Josh Addison has been the manager at Redenta’s Garden Shop on Skillman Street for 13 years. He says popular purchases for spring are annuals like geraniums and petunias. The shop also specializes in native Texas plants, such as blackfoot daisies and salvias, which are common buys this time of year.
While plants are in stock at Redenta’s, Addison says there’s a shortage of pottery and some bottled products, such as fertilizers and sprays.
“There’s a few things that have been out of stock that aren’t normally out of stock this time of year because of supply chain issues,” he says. “But everybody’s telling us that it should get better in a month or two, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Tips from Josh Addison of Redenta’s
Start preparing soil for spring plants several weeks in advance. Add compost, greensand, fertilizer and earthworm castings now. “That way when you do go to plant, you’ll have a good base to start with.”
Get a good rose and flower food and add it about once a month throughout the season. “You’ll have a lot better bloom, a lot better growth, a lot prettier plants.”
When replanting or cutting plants back, add a light layer of compost to help replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Tips from Dave Forehand of the Dallas Arboretum
“Spring is one of those really forgiving times. It’s not too hot yet. We typically get a decent amount of rain. So it’s just when everything is going to look good because Mother Nature is helping you at that time of year. But we do water and fertilize as needed and just keep all the grounds really well-groomed.”
Forehand recommends visiting the Arboretum on March 16. “It’s my birthday,” he says. “But it’s almost always when tulips are peak, cherry trees are peak, azaleas are peak, right around that time.”
Spring at the Arboretum
“Birds in Paradise” is this year’s theme for Dallas Blooms. From Feb. 19-April 10, find large peacock topiaries scattered throughout the garden, in addition to many other flowering plants.
One special event is the fifth-annual food and wine festival, March 24-26.
And there are recurring activities at A Tasteful Place, the Arboretum’s 3.5-acre potager garden.
- Daily: Samples of the hero vegetable
- Mondays at 11 a.m.: Dallas College cooking demonstrations
- Tuesdays at 11 a.m.: “Tasteful Tuesdays” floral demonstrations
- Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m.: “Chef-tastic” cooking demonstrations with local pros
- Fridays at 11 a.m.: “Learn to Grow” Fridays with master gardeners, the Arboretum’s horticultural staff and local experts
Redenta’s: 2001 Skillman St., 214.823.9241
Dallas Arboretum: 8525 Garland Road, 214.515.6615