Slow and unsteady

The start of the garden’s spring cleanup has been intentionally delayed, though the late winter weather has been perfectly suitable for outdoor labor. A considerable amount of fill in planting will be done early, and leaving the faded foliage is helpful so that new plantings aren’t dug into the same spot as something else. There’s not a chance that I remember where everything is in this garden, and despite my efforts (or lack thereof) already I’ve cut into a few allium bulbs that didn’t show above ground as I’ve dug to plant merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora, below) and several new hellebores.

Probably, there will never be a part of this garden that could be considered neatly groomed, but some order must be restored prior to new growth that is coming quickly in this warmer than average late winter. Little or no pruning is done, and barely a nugget of mulch remains. Instead, whole or shredded leaves cover the ground rather than some form of wood mulch that would add hours of labor and more quickly drain the budget, and when leaves of perennials are cut they’re usually discarded between shrubs, where they decay quickly enough once temperatures warm up.

Besides removing the old foliage of perennials, there’s not a lot done but to wait for leaves to appear to hide the messes. This is successful enough, at least I think it is, and if the occasional visitor notices any untidiness they don’t mention it.

Leaves of Pink Frost illicium droop each night that temperatures drop to twenty degrees or colder.

So far, there’s been no concern about flushes of new growth and late freezes, and despite general mildness there’s been a day or two of each week when a bit of a chill returns. But, nothing too harsh. Yes, the longer stemmed hellebores weep until midday, and the poor anise shrubs (Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Frost’, above and below) appear to be on their way out until they miraculously revive as temperatures rise.

By midday, when temperatures have risen to the upper twenties, all is back to normal.

The spring deliveries have begun, so I’ll be planting as soon as the packages are opened, or the car’s unloaded. I can put off weeding or any other garden chore for weeks, but planting is a pleasure. First, there’s a once, maybe twice around the garden to figure where everything can go, then I grab the trowel and dig. Probably, there’s a few weeks until this is mostly wrapped up, and then the cleanup begins. In this acre and a quarter garden this often requires most of a few weekend days, but after a slow start I’m hoping to cut that by half.