This is a banner year for just about everything. The fruit trees are setting profusely. The floral displays of the tree and shrub ornamentals is going to be a memorable year by which all other years can be compared, and the maples are just stunning!
Garden subjects of all kinds should be planted now. The plant in bloom will just continue its growth in the ground when you plant, rather than in its container. Flowering trees and shrubs are just lovely now, and many can be purchased for the landscape/garden in bud or bloom now. It is too late for most magnolias, but if planted now, they will establish in your garden to bloom wonderfully next year! Many flowering trees and shrubs have finished, but there are many more from which to choose. Viburnums, Weigelas, Syringas, Philadelphus, Deutzias are all in bloom now or soon will be and provide that wonderful spring seasonal flush of blooms. These also make great cut material for the vase and you can do you pruning by cutting those flowered branches. Remeber that many plants like to be rejuvenated by light trimming of the blooming branches which will stimulate new growth which will grow this season and ripen to flower heavily next year! Cut in bloom or just after to get this growth flush on many shrubs which bloom now. Some plants do not need much trimming (such as Viburnum plicatum tomentosum) and just cutting a few branches for the vase from the back side of the plant will give you your material and still maintain the nice natural shape of the bush. Don’t forget foliage colors! Leaves give a longer season of interest than flowers. Their textures and foliage colors(especially variegated cvs.) will continue to give color in the landscape long after any blooms.
When planting, remember to select the right plant for the location. Do take into consideration the ultimate mature size dimensions. You can use temporary filler plants in the space while the permanent plant grows to maturity. This gives you a colorful area which can change seasonally and each year by selecting perennials and annuals. Spring and summer bulbs can also be included in this selection and all look attractive in between larger tree and shrub plantings.
Many conifers are now very colorful with their new spring flush of growth which is a different color than the older mature needles/foliage. Blue cvs are bluer, yellow and other variegateds are brighter now and that will continue with the new growth spurt. Conifers add a different quality to the landscape. They are mostly evergreens and of finer texture, and there are dramatic forms, both small and large growing.
With fruit trees, it is important to now begin to thin the crop of immature fruits to improve quality and size as well as lessen the fruit crop weight. Space a hands width between smaller fruits such as apricots and plums, pluots, apriums, and larger distance for bigger fruits like apples, pears, persimmons, nectarines and peaches. You do not have to do this, but the quality of the crop will improve if you do. The basic rule of thumb is to leave more fruit if you want smaller fruit size, leave less if you want bigger fruit.
You may need to prop the branches later when the fruits become larger and heavier on the branches. Support will prevent limb breakage. Keep fruits well watered now until harvest. Remember that fruit is at least 70-80% of the juiciness of the fruit, so if you let the tree go drier, the fruit will be less juicy.
Cherries do not need thinning as a rule but you should protect them from birds when they start to color up or they will eat them all.
With some of the exotics like bamboos, keep them well watered and you can feed them now also to get better growth from them. New shoots are coming now, or soon and water and fertilizer will promote vigorous growth and lush appearance later.