Virginia Landmarks
December 2, 1998
Fairlington Historic District
Gardening By The Yard
National Register
March 29, 1999
Historic Designation Seal Homes in Historic Fairlington background image - American Flag Homes in Historic Fairlington Historic Designation Seal

Photo by Guy L. Adams
Gardening by the Yard
By Tom Corbin
A Fairlington Gardener

May/June 2005 Gardening Tips

When night temperatures remain at or above 50 degrees, summer annuals will take root and flourish. Most folks in this area wait until Mother's Day to plant warm weather items as putting them in earlier accomplishes little due to the up and down of the temperatures.

In selecting summer annuals look for plants:

  • With healthy dark green foliage
  • With robust, "squatty" growth and few or no blooms
  • In four inch or larger pots (avoid the six/ eight/ ten pack deals)
  • With good root growth that is not pot bound
  • Work the soil well and amend it with a little potting soil, organic matter, or seasoned manure; apply some all purpose, slow release organic fertilizer (10-10-10). Make sure the plant's roots are "teased" apart so they will have contact with the new soil because if roots are left to grow in the same pattern (usually in a circle) as in the pot, the plant will be stunted with few blooms. Water the plant to eliminate air pockets and to bring the soil to the roots. Apply some mulch to keep the soil moist, to prevent weed growth, and to make the bed attractive.

    Do Your "Deading"

    Most annuals require deadheading (removing the spent flowers). Petunias (the newer 'million bells' variety are an exception) require daily deadheading; begonias and impatiens require none. Pinching the center of a plant will cause it to develop side branches and remain compact rather than become leggy. Consider how much time you have to give to your plants. If you have little time, select varieties that, once established, thrive with minimal care. Regular watering is a must if plants are to thrive.

    Many areas where we would like summer color are shady, so we can't plant the bright, bold annuals. Consider a combination of hosta (many sizes and leaf colors), astilbe, ferns, coleus, impatiens (not the New Guinea variety) for the shade garden. Go for different heights in the shade garden and consider placing pots of tropicals in the border for extra punch!

    Clean Up and Prune

    If your spring pansies have not "bolted" (grown tall and leggy), continue to deadhead them for more flowers until hot weather arrives. Prune any spring flowering shrub to remove deadwood and to shape it. Do not remove bulb foliage until it "ripens" (turns yellow); if you remove it you will have no blooms next year.

    Tulips usually have few if any blooms the second year as the bulb "splits"; treat them as "annuals", removing them after flowering, and planting new bulbs in the fall. Keep in mind that all those beautiful beds of bulbs you saw this spring were planted last fall. Many catalogue/ website nurseries now have pre-season specials on bulbs. Order now with significant savings and your bulbs will be shipped at the proper planting time in the fall.

    Green Spring Garden Tour - June 7

    Fairlington Gardeners (a cooperative gardening effort by Fairlington Meadows and Fairlington Mews) is sponsoring an evening tour of the display gardens at Green Spring Gardens Park (Fairfax County) on June 7 at 7:00 PM. Mews residents who would like to attend this event should contact Tom Corbin (703-931-0687 or by June 2. Green Spring personnel ask that each participant contribute a monetary contribution to help defray costs. Click here for more details about the Tour.

    Check out the gardening feature on HGTV (Home and Garden TV) for tips and advice! You may also access the site from the Fairlington gardening page at

    Late Spring Photos of Tom's Garden
    34th Street
    (New Images & Plant Descriptions
    Posted May 23, 2005)

    Click Here for Slide Show

    (Compare with Three Weeks Ago!!)

    Click Here for January 2005 Column
    Click Here for March 2005 Column

    Photo from Tom's Garden
    Commons Resident Guy L. Adams
    (Click on Photo for More Images)
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