Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Bounced In

Even though the snow dump on the patio was fighting a meltdown and the lawn a squishy, soggy mess, the glorious weather last weekend made it a joy to rediscover my garden. Although the snow cover stayed longer than it normally does, it didn’t bother the plants below. The crocuses must have been bursting to bloom because as soon as the snow vanished, they flowered. A hellebore, which usually suffers from late winter weather, benefited from the deep snow drift that covered it all winter, is thinking of flowering.

Green shoots of other plants are poking up, many of which are familiar as they’re old timers, but I’m afraid I’m at a loss to identify others until they give me more clues, like leaves, or even flowers. It’s partly because I planted new stuff last fall and moved a few things around, but I do tend to forget where I plant things. In fact, I discovered a plant tag thrust aside by a clump of crocus. I planted something new there last fall not realizing there were crocus below.

I do keep notes and photographs taken at different times throughout the growing season to help keep track of what is where, but when I’m in the garden I’m reluctant to return indoors. Instead, I make a mental note to check it out later, except those mental notes tend to get misplaced when I’m having so much fun puttering about on a beautiful spring day.

And besides, it’s been almost half a year since I last worked in the garden, around the middle of November when I crammed everything into the shed. Is it any wonder I might have forgotten a few things? By the time summer rolls around, I’ll have everything sorted out.

Right now, there are plenty of things to keep me busy. I’ve cut back all my ornamental grasses. It was quite a crop, almost too much for the compost pile. They’re slow to break down unless they’re chopped up, so I save some of those long clumps of stalks to use as mulch between the rows in a vegetable garden. I’m cutting back the stalks of perennials to make way for new growth and cleaning up the mushy leaves of my hostas. It’s not a job for the squeamish as you never know what might be lurking beneath, a slug or two most likely.

Toss the leaves on the compost pile then scuff up the soil a little to expose any slug eggs to spring frosts. This will finish them off before they get chance to start munching.  This is also the time of year, just at the moment when leaf tips are showing a little green, to spray a dormant oil mix on any shrubs or trees that are particularly susceptible to insect damage or fungal diseases. I’ve found it useful in controlling black spot on roses. I spray the soil lightly around the roses too.

As for my one climbing rose, it does need attention. The dead wood and stringy branches with rose hips need to be removed, and I really need to try and bend some of the younger canes horizontally to encourage more blooms. It’s always a challenge, and I rarely escape unscathed, but at this time of year, anything job in the garden is fun. 

No comments: