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Spring Clean-Up

April 12, 2010
Deck Border before Clean-Up (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) I find spring clean-up in the garden a very satisfying activity. I do very little garden clean-up in the fall, preferring to leave seed heads for the birds and spent foliage as winter protection. So by the end of winter, my garden is looking pretty sad and messy.
Old growth in the Blue & Yellow border (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Old foliage hiding new growth (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Full of old twigs and leaves, … and with spent foliage hiding new growth.
But after the old growth and foliage have been cut back,

…and after many wheelbarrow loads of leaves have been hauled away,

Wheelbarrow load of leaves (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Deck Border after spring clean-up (phto credit: Jean Potuchek) The garden looks neat and clean and ready for a new season.
I can see where Geranium x cantabrigiense is encroaching on its neighbors, Geranium Biokovo encroaching on daylily (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Volunteer Geranium in unfortunate location (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) … and that this volunteer Geranium endressii will need to be moved.
And look what was hiding under that old spent foliage! New foliage on Alchemilla mollis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. gardeningasylum permalink
    April 12, 2010 11:20 am

    Oh Jean, I love cleanup too! Disappointments lie there, but also lovely beauties waiting to be uncovered, like your sweet lady’s mantle. Cyndy

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:11 pm

      Cyndy, I didn’t even have any disappointments this year. (Well, not yet, anyway.) I got this job done so much earlier than normal that many plants aren’t even up out of the ground yet.

  2. April 12, 2010 11:32 am

    Hello Jean,

    I don’t particularly like cleaning up, but I LOVE how it looks once I have finished. I like your after photo and it will be nice to see the same area in a couple of months.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:12 pm

      Noelle, I think your comment has inspired me to take a photo of this part of the garden about once every week or two so that I can document its progression from almost-bare canvas to lush growth and bloom.

  3. April 12, 2010 1:30 pm

    It is such a satisfying task. I look at it as ‘gathering compost-to-be’. Looks like you’ve uncovered lots of new spring growth!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:14 pm

      Clare, I was amazed at how much new growth was already up this early in the season. Normally, I would still have patches of snow in the garden in mid-April. And now that I have it all cleaned up, I can watch new growth appearing every day as the garden fills in.

  4. April 12, 2010 2:22 pm

    I like to do a spring clean up too. I get a better idea of which plants are spreading too much and it is also easy to remove them. Eventually I can enjoy the sight of a tidy garden which I will then leave to do its own thing for the rest of the year. A combination of industry and laziness which works really well for me!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:15 pm

      EG, It sounds as though we have similar philosophies of gardening. Get the garden set up for the season and then just let it do its thing. I’m definitely more of a “get out and sit in the garden” person than a “get out and work in the garden” person!

  5. April 12, 2010 2:59 pm

    There’s nothing like digging around a pile of old leaves to discover new growth. Ahhh, spring. You’ve got to love it, even if our backs don’t.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:16 pm

      Heather, Thanks for visiting. Yes, it’s hard not to love spring — especially, when I can get out to do this work before the black flies put in their inevitable appearance.

  6. April 12, 2010 5:37 pm

    I get great joy from spring clean up. We limit our fall clean up to mowing the leaves. Your after pics look great. jim

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:18 pm

      Jim, I don’t even do leaves in the fall. A lot of the deciduous trees around my house are white oaks, which hang on to their dead leaves in fall. The leaves get ripped off the trees by winter storms, and then any that are left get dropped in spring. Since most of our big winter storms are Nor’easters, with winds from the northeast, by spring all the leaves have been tidily piled up by the winds in north- and east-facing corners. Much easier than raking :-)!

  7. April 12, 2010 11:00 pm

    Jean – isn’t the surprise of cleaning up the old leaves and finding a treasure underneath a little like “a Christmas present in spring”?!

    I ‘hooped’ out loud when I saw my “Fire & Ice” Hosta popping up this weekend! :o)

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:20 pm

      Shyrlene, I know exactly what you mean. My hostas are just starting to appear, and I have that same “whoopee” reaction whenever I see one starting to poke up out of the soil.

  8. April 13, 2010 4:49 am

    Your pre-clean up garden looks better than mine after a clean-up. Relax and have a beer!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:21 pm

      Hmm. I think my photos didn’t capture the full messiness of it. Nevertheless, I’m always happy to relax and enjoy the fruits of a job well-done.

  9. April 13, 2010 8:59 pm

    Spring clean up is a lot of work, but it all looks so fresh and ready for new growth after that it makes it worth all the work. I love the surprises that I find underneath the old leaves. Glad you were able to do your clean up and now you’ll be ready to plant 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:22 pm

      Catherine, because I got the clean-up done about a month earlier than I usually do, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s only mid-April and I really need to wait 2-3 more weeks before I start planting things. But I’m ready!

  10. April 14, 2010 2:27 am

    Like you, I leave things as they are in the fall and find the birds are out there all winter eating seeds. Plus it’s supposed to be good for over wintering insects too. It looks like you’ve got the whole garden done already. My method is to clean up what I can see from the house first and then move out from there. It keeps me motivated to see how nice it looks. But there is still too much to do.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:25 pm

      I did my clean-up over a period of about a week, tackling one garden area at a time. The part of the garden in the after picture is what I see when I look out from my kitchen, so it was particularly satisfying to get this done.

  11. April 14, 2010 12:09 pm

    Spring cleanup is so satisfying, especially when you free such cute green leaves from their cover of dead debris. Good work!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:25 pm

      They are cute, aren’t they :-)!

  12. April 14, 2010 1:19 pm

    Hi Jean~~ It is a real morale booster to have the garden tidied up, isn’t it? And darn those hardy Geraniums! [Not to mention Alchemilla] The ones that prolifically re-seed… There’s only so many places to plant the babies and only so many people to give them to. … However, better too many than not enough. 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:28 pm

      Grace, I still can’t bear to toss any of the extra geranium plants. My ‘Biokovo’ geraniums spread so fast that I’m always looking for new areas to plant them in or new people to give them to. If you were closer, I’d give you that volunteer G. endressii; it’s a very pretty, clear pink that would be perfect in your garden.

  13. April 15, 2010 9:08 am

    Hi, Jean,
    I always leave my leaves on the garden — just pulling them aside when they’re sitting on the crowns of my plants. My sandy soil needs all the mulch it can get, so living with a little untidiness longer, till the leaves flesh out to hide it, is a small price to pay and a lot less labour.

    As you guessed, my courses are over — or in three weeks of hiatus, till my next one (and only one; lesson learned) begins in early May. So I’m making up for lost time blogging. Next step will be to get back to garden blog visiting — but as you know, it’s this time of year when the garden needs most attention, and when the gardener most craves the garden.

    Happy Spring!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:31 pm

      Helen, How nice that you have time to visit again! I, too, have very sandy soil, so any organic matter to work into it is a gift.

  14. April 15, 2010 10:00 am

    I also like to clean my garden. Even if the weather is not good.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:32 pm

      Tatyana, I’m not as ambitious as you are; I confine my garden clean-up activities to mild, sunny days. (But I think we get more of those here than you do in the Pacific northwest.)

  15. April 15, 2010 10:46 am

    Hi Jean,
    Nice photos. That’s just how my yard looks in early spring too. I do leave a little organic debris around after clean-up–so I guess i don’t clean up too strenuously. Ah, the pleasures of being a “lazy” gardener!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:33 pm

      Don’t you love situations in which being lazy turns out to be a virtue? 🙂

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