Work to do

Recent mild temperatures have encouraged me to get out into the garden. Lengthy strolls encouraged by blooming hellebores, snowdrops, witch hazels, and now the first daffodils (below) have been briefly punctuated by pulling of winter weeds that should be plucked before going to seed. Many remain, and there is much clean up to do before spring’s growth begins.

There’s no rush, I remind as another mild February day is spent hiking the nearby mountains that are beginning to green up weeks early. On occasion, I will accomplish much before the first of March, but with a mid month deadline, I work with greater purpose. Despite an acre of garden, I am often able to ready it for spring in two long days. No, my readiness is not likely to meet your standards, but the garden is ready enough.

I’ve been unusually inspired this winter, with at least one mail-order a near duplicate of one made weeks earlier. As I haul plants home from the garden center in a few weeks, I’ll be greeted regularly by boxes on the porch. There will be places for all, though too many plants are purchased without a plan. Once in hand, decisions are made, ideal or not, though most work splendidly.

I notice that several autumn flowering camellias on the sunnier northwestern edge of the garden are growing quite tall, with upper growth extending taller than ten feet. Lower portions are acceptably full, and perhaps there is some advantage to snipping the unbranched stems, but all camellias have grown beautifully without my interference, so I’m not likely to do so now.

The mid March bloom of summer snowflakes should not be delayed by the cover of leaves.

Piles of leaves remain along the southern border that bumps against the forest. I notice summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum, above) emerging, and while leaves must soon be cleaned from the patios and paths, leaves will remain in garden areas to decay by summer to enrich the soil. Some may consider this untidy. Here, it is preferred as an alternative to mulch.

Leaves have been cleared from the many clumps of hellebores (above), some removed just as flowering began. I notice that many browned leaves were missed as I made the rounds to clean up after the December freeze. A few leaves will be cut out as the hellebore comes into flower, but if the brown does not obscure blooms they will be left. New growth will quickly cover over after flowers fade.

I have vowed to chop the paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, above) substantially after flowering, but of course, I now have second thoughts. Three of six have grown wider than twenty feet, and while all are encroaching upon neighbors, I don’t see that damage will be done by waiting another year. Perhaps a branch or two will need to be trimmed to save the tall ‘Canyon Creek’ abelia from being overwhelmed, but all else should survive another year’s spread.

In a switch, I am determined to fertilize several smaller Japanese maples planted in recent years. No fertilizer has been used for decades, but I am impatient for small trees to better blend into this thirty-four year old garden. There is the additional benefit when trees grow to shade the ground to discourage weed growth. I don’t think this will help with winter weeds this year or next, but I’ll be delighted when that chore is made more manageable.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Yvonne Tsikata says:

    What fertilizer do you plan to use on the Japanese maples?

    Great to meet you yesterday at the Home & Garden Show. I enjoyed your talk and our conversation afterwards. Will follow up on the Oakland holly.

    1. Dave says:

      I enjoyed talking with you after my presentation. I’ll fertilize in a few weeks, probably an organic fertilizer like HollyTone.

  2. Kim says:

    Beautiful winter beauty!!
    What is the conifer to the right of the edgeworthia with the yellow tips? This would be a wonderful companion to my Merlot redbud –
    Thank you!

    1. Dave says:

      This is the gold fernspray cypress. In a few weeks the gold color will intensify.

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