I just love spring. It is a sure sign of hope as I see plants re-emerging, reassuring me that life continues.

Sunshine and warmth are such a stimulant for me to "spring" out of bed, get going, get outside and tend to my little piece of nature.

I love helping others learn how to tend to their gardens, too.

One great way to celebrate spring in Central Texas is to utilize trees and shrubs that exemplify the time of vernal equinox. As I traveled from one side of the county to the other, I saw a sprinkling of flowering trees - both natives along the highway growing naturally and those in neighborhood yards and entrances.

I think there is so much more potential to welcome spring into our area than we are taking advantage of, and I have to ask myself why? A possible reason may be we just aren't exposed to the sheer beauty of springtime flora.

Just last week, I traveled to a state that was running about three to four weeks behind us in terms of warm weather and, therefore, spring foliage. I saw incredible displays of springtime in the large numbers of spring-blooming plant species. It was breathtaking, and I realized I hadn't ever seen displays such as these. Some of these plants were of the same varieties that we have right here, just to a greater extent.

The thing I noticed and appreciated the most was how the city used spring-blooming plants in large numbers in their landscaping, making it more noticeable and spectacular. The sides of the highways and medians were solid colors. It was inspiring.

I would love to see Bell County residents use more spring-blooming trees and shrubs as we plan and update our home, business and personal property landscapes.

I did some looking into specific varieties that would "make the statement" that spring is here, including Redbuds, Mountain Laurels, deciduous Magnolias, Anacacho Orchids, American smoke trees, Fringe trees, Chaste trees (Vitex), Desert Willows, pear trees, flowering Quinces, Forsythias, Crabapples, Spirea Bridalwreath, Mexican Buckeye, peach trees, Azaleas and Crossvine.

A great thing about these spring bloomers is many of them are small to medium in size, which may fit in nicely with existing landscaping. Mixing them with summer bloomers and evergreens will provide a great look year-round. As with all plants, do your homework for water, sun and space needs.

Enjoy this springtime weather; summer will be here before we know it.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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