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Get Growing: Daffodil season

Daffodils in field

Daffodils in field Purchase photo reprints »

Those jaunty yellow trumpets are in full bloom right now, announcing that spring has truly arrived.

Take note of the many unusual varieties you see in other people’s gardens and ask the name of the cultivar. There are plain yellow trumpets, varieties with red, white or pink trumpets and yellow perianths (the outer petals), pure white ones, short ones, tall ones, tiny ones, jumbo ones. By planting many varieties you can have daffodils in bloom from early April to mid-May; a full six weeks.

One of the earliest to flower is ‘February Gold’, which usually blooms here in late March. ‘Jet Fire’ and ‘Ice Follies’ are blooming in my yard now along with the miniature ‘Tete-a-Tete.’ Soon ‘Pipit’, ‘Carlton’ and the curious doubles and split coronas will flower. The very last are the tazettas with multiple small fragrant blossoms on each stem as well as the old Poet’s type. Daffodils bloom so well because their bulbs are poisonous so voles, chipmunks, squirrels and deer stay far away — unlike tulips which are candy to all of those creatures. Daffodils (botanical name, narcissus) also multiply, albeit slowly, so you always have more than you planted.

Many town groups are planting hundreds and thousands of daffodil bulbs in the fall in order to have a real splash in the spring. Over the past few years a private group in Amherst has planted about 25,000 daffodils in public parks and in private front yards. They sponsor a 5K Daffodil Run on April 27 to benefit Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Join in the fun by participating in or backing a runner.

EARTH DAY: This more than 30-year-old celebration of Mother Earth has morphed into a series of events around sustainability issues. This weekend is the “Little e” in Greenfield at the Franklin County Fair Grounds. Previously called the Green Fair, it runs concurrently with a home show. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Many local energy-saving companies will have booths and the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association will be there, too. Amherst’s Sustainability Festival is April 27 on the Town Common.

FARMERS MARKETS: Despite the late spring, many area farmers markets are opening soon. Amherst Farmers Market starts tomorrow in the Spring Street Common parking area from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Northampton opens on April 30 and the Amherst Midweek Market on May 1. Check the CISA website for more information.

FRUIT GROWING WITH LEE REICH: Nationally-known garden writer Lee Reich will offer a day-long series of seminars on growing fruits at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge on Saturday. Reich has written extensively on fruit-growing and has a farm in upstate New York. Fee is $85. You can choose to take individual seminars for $30 each. Steve McKay will assist. For details go to www.berkshirebotanical.org or call 298-3926.

AMHERST ORCHID SOCIETY: The monthly meeting of the Amherst Orchid Society will be Sunday, 2 p.m., at the Munson Memorial Library in Amherst.

HERB FEST: The annual UMass Herb Fest is Tuesday at the Student Union Ballroom from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Learn about culinary and medicinal uses for herbs as well as how to grow them. There will be displays, demonstrations and local herb vendors. Free.

HADLEY GARDEN CENTER: Get your garden soil tested by trained volunteers with the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hadley Garden Center, Route 9, Hadley. Bring a cup of air-dried soil marked with the kind of crop you wish to grow: vegetables, lawn, flowers, fruits: $1 per sample. For directions on how to sample properly, go to www.WMassMasterGardeners.org. On Thursday at 6 p.m. David Wilson of Garden Splendor will lead a “walk about” in the nursery yard, pointing out “favorite plants, common and unusual.” The events are part of the center’s 50th anniversary celebration.

LOW MAINTENANCE DESIGN: Owen Wormser of Abound Design in Shelburne Falls will offer a workshop, co-sponsored by the Hitchcock Center, on low-maintenance design strategies with native plants, April 28, 1-4 p.m., at Nasami Farm, Whately. Bring photographs, plans and ideas to enrich your landscape with native plants. Fee, $43; members, $34. Call 256-6006 to register. 

PLANT SALES: It’s time again for local plant sales benefiting nonprofits: an opportunity for gardeners to get locally-grown plants that can survive our climate and all its crazy changes. The first sale of the season will be April 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Florence Congregational Church. Plants, which range in price from $3 to $6, will include perennials, annuals, vegetables, trees and shrubs. Plant donations are being accepted. There will also be a tag sale, hot dog lunch and a bake sale. Call the church, 584-1325, or Nancy, 587-0327, for more information or to donate plants.

SAD NEWS: Blanchette Gardens in Carlisle, a highly reliable family nursery specializing in shade plants, is going out of business. They have been in existence since 1981. The Blanchettes are holding a retirement sale beginning May 4 with 25 percent off all plants. There is no mail-order option.

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