Typically we think of autumn as the season of color in woody landscape plants of all types, but looking around, there are many colorful plants right now this spring. A highlight to any garden are Japanese maples leafing out in early spring. This includes grafted plants that have dark red brilliant new foliage of spring and those of seedling origin. Many seedling plants have various blends of color on leaves and stems and are available in addition to grafted plants. These may come up in your garden beds or can be purchased at some nurseries. Even common seedling with normal green leaves add to the color palette of spring.

Maples are not the only color in the landscape though. Dogwoods have begun to bloom in area landscapes too. White flowers of dogwood add contrast to the greens, reds and other foliage colors of spring. There are also red and pink flowering dogwood available from nurseries which provide a good contrast with white flowering dogwood trees.

Other flowering trees, such as “Profusion” crabapple, have reddish flowers that add to any landscape color display. Fence lines also provide support for vining plants such as clematis. These climbing plants do well when provided with vertical support and good soil beneath. They may need a little help getting started on a support structure with ties but they quickly latch on and expand each year. Their flowers come in a large array of sizes, shapes and colors that enhance a small spot by themselves or added to other woody shrubs and trees within a planting area.

Actually, springtime should bring a flush of new energy to any local gardener. Fresh new growth and flowers bring back gardener excitement after the dreary and cool days of late winter. It is time to work landscape beds to rid them of any winter weeds, add a light layer of compost and mulch if needed and take a soil sample to measure and monitor nutrients within the soil. It is also a time when gardeners may be shopping for new plants for their favorite flower spots in the garden. The largest danger is over planting which can lead to crowding and suppression of smaller woody and herbaceous plants.

Spring brings the need to work your garden area and add a little mulch or compost to keep down weeds and provide a good growing environment for your plants. Also, it might be time to add another plant and tree cluster to your backyard garden, but keep in mind that landscape garden care gets more difficult once the weather gets hot so one should only size your garden to allow for enjoyment time, not just maintenance time in the garden. Anyway, the goal of any gardener should be on creating what appeals to you and what provides that sense of satisfaction and peace, rather than the chaos of constant plant care activities. (Size the garden for ease of management and allow time to enjoy your garden).

Take advantage of the free opportunity to learn more about composting by signing up for the free Composting Class at the County Recycle Center Below and get a composter. If you have questions you can call the Clemson Extension Office at 864-223-3264 or stop by our office on East Cambridge Avenue.

An upcoming, free Composting Class at County Recycle Center will be 10 a.m. to noon on April 11. Contact County Recycle Center at 864-942-8754 to participate.

James Hodges is a Clemson Extension agent in Greenwood County. He can be reached at 864-223-3264.