PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s officially spring, and while last weekend’s temperatures were the warmest of the year so far, the sunshine gave people a taste of spring and inspired some to start thinking about gardening. 

Although spring has only just begun, Andrea Melnychenko from Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping and Gardening Centers, said it is safe to start planting things. 

“The way that I like to describe things that can be planted right now, especially in early spring, are things that will bring you instant gratification and then things that will sort of set the stage for summer,” she said. 

For people looking for instant gratification – perhaps bright pops of color to break up the gloomy days that can drag on into spring – Melnychenko said there are several seasonal annuals that thrive this time of year. These are flowers that enjoy when the nighttime temperatures are cool, but the weather warms up during the day. 

A few things she recommends are anemones, primroses and ranunculi. These flowers stop blooming at around the time traditional summer flowers open up. 

All three are bulb plants and can be planted. With the right conditions, they could bloom again every year. 

Anyone wanting to work ahead and plant things that will thrive later in the year should consider purchasing and planting roses in early spring. The flowers are dormant this time of year and are usually found as bare root plants at nurseries, but Melnychenko said this is the time of year to find the best selection. 

For people who want the best of both worlds, as in something that looks beautiful now but will continue to grow through the summer, Melnychenko encourages them to consider flowering trees and shrubs. This will flower in the spring and then develop lovely foliage for the summer. 

Anyone working with a limited landscaping space can even consider a small dogwood or magnolia tree. 

As far as produce gardening goes, Melnychenko said it’s not too early to plant crops either. Hardy greens like kales, lettuce and mustard varieties can be planted outdoors now. Peas are another crop that can go in the ground now and be sown this time of year. 

“Getting a seed packet of peas, popping them right in the soil. They don’t need a lot of fussing or care and they kind of thrive with these colder soil temperatures,” Melnychenko said. 

She said anything that’s out in the open at garden centers right now should be safe to grow outside. Anything that looks like it’s being sheltered at the store or nursery might be something a customer should ask about before taking it home, to see if it requires any protection from the elements. 

Other garden fruits and vegetables can be started as seeds indoors this time of year and then transplanted outside once the average temperatures become warmer. 

Early spring is the time of year when bulb flowers like daffodils, crocuses and tulips are blooming. Anyone who buys these potted plants this time of year can plant them directly into the ground or wait until they go dormant and then plant the bulbs. 

Bulbs for these flowers can also be purchased and planted in the fall. That’s when nurseries have more varieties available, Melnychenko said. 

She said now is a great time to consider planting bulb flowers that bloom in the summer, things like gladiolus, lilies and dahlias. 

“Right now, the floodgates are really opening. Garden centers like ours are getting all of these deliveries of these beautiful locally grown plants daily,” Melnychenko said. “So it’s a really good time to get out there.”