We are enjoying some great gardening weather in Oregon. While different than last years' very warm and dry February, we have had some wonderful days this winter. We also had near record breaking rain for the month in the first half. It doesn't necessarily translate to an early bloom season, as we have seen it cool down and hold the growth at bay for a couple of weeks during previous springs. The area berries and garden plants are perhaps a week or more ahead of 'usual'.
Northwest gardeners will want to keep an eye out for fungus on plants in wet, warm weather. This is also a prime time for slugs to start nibbling daylilies, hostas and iris. With the peonies and iris popping up, now is a good time to spray the new growth with fungicide to prevent botrytis or other fungi from settling on the leaves. Botrytis blight can affect a number of plants, including peonies, creating wilty stems, brown spots on leaves and can turn buds brown before they have a chance to fully develop. Iris leaves will be spotted with unslightly brown spots.There are a number of products available to use as a preventive measure, including organic copper fungicides. They are available in liquid (to spray) or powder (to dust) formulations. Check with your local garden center for the right product, and always follow label directions.