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Bright colors ahead Karina Hernandez | Mon, Jun 14 2010 12:23 PM

In April, gardeners begin to see the fruits of their labors from the past months as their gardens come into full bloom and become ripe with activity.

Beat the summer heat by completing your spring planting this month. The combination of April showers and rising temperatures allow for quick growth in transplants and warm-weather flowers.

Azaleas are in bloom, which means their roots are dormant and it's a good time to plant them. You can safely transplant them into the ground or in pots with partial shade.

The ground is warm enough for dahlia bulbs or tubers. Get the most blooms possible by planting them in a sunny spot because they thrive on eight hours of direct sunlight. Dig approximately five inches deep, toss tubers in the ground, allowing for a natural placement pattern, and cover without watering.

Follow up on the seedlings you started indoors. They are ready to move into the garden when they've reached a few inches in height and you've hardened them up outdoors for seven to 10 days to acclimate.

The gradual exposure to sunlight will help prevent transplant shock. Handle them by their two leaves rather than the stem, and lightly water the soil immediately after transplanting them into soft soil.

To get successive crops in the veggie garden, plant additional starters in and around the existing plants. This way, you avoid becoming overloaded with a certain vegetable at one time and having to wait for the next crop to grow weeks later.

Make your garden visually pleasing and inviting to beneficial creatures which will help control pests by coordinating plant type, color and location.

Plant nectar-filled flowers in pink, red and white, such as starflowers, to attract hummingbirds, and cosmos and milkweed for butterflies. Birds like daffodils for their ripened leaves, which they use for nesting material. They also like cornflowers and sunflowers.

Use a color wheel to help guide you in the placement of flowers. Create eye-catching combinations by using monochromatic color schemes which feature a single color in different hues; complementary combinations which involves two colors on opposite sides of the wheel, such as violet and yellow; and analogous schemes, a trio of colors located next to each other on the wheel, such as yellow, orange and pink. Planting by color is best achieved with nursery plants already in bloom, so you know what color they will be.

Get the most out of a small yard or patio by placing plants at low, mid and high levels to create balance and interest. Use hanging baskets containing warm-weather flowers and hanging ivy to draw the eye upward.

Place trellises, pergolas and other training stakes for vines throughout. Vines with large flowers, such as passion flower and clematis, are best because they provide shade and visuals. Window boxes, pots on steps and plant stands also help to fill in the mid-height range and allow you to view the flying creatures they attract.

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