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A Very Late Spring

May 6, 2014

maple budsIt has been a week since I returned from my annual spring clean-up trip home to work in my Maine garden. When I planned this trip for the last weekend in April, I was imagining sunshine and mild temperatures. What I got instead were temperatures mostly in the 30s and 40s (F) and a little bit of sun mixed with lots of clouds and rain.

 

snow patch forsythia not blooming

I was amazed to see just how late spring is this year. There were still patches of snow here and there along the side of the driveway and the forsythia had not yet begun to bloom. The only signs of flowers were the buds beginning to open on the maple trees, and a few crocus blooms and one brave hellebore bloom in the serenity garden.

crocus blooms sereniity hellebore bloom

But although it wasn’t quite the spring scene I had imagined, once Saturday’s heavy rain stopped, it turned out to be a good weekend for spring clean-up. The fact that so little had come up yet in the garden made it much easier to clean away the remains of last year’s garden season. One of Lucy Simon’s lyrics from the musical version of The Secret Garden kept running through my head:

We clear away the dead parts so the tender buds can form; loosen up the earth and let the roots get warm.

After just a few hours work on Sunday, some flower beds looked like this.

fence border after 2014 hosta row after

But others still looked like this.

circular bed before 2014 holding area before

A full day on Monday and another few hours on Tuesday allowed me to finish the job. Even the back slope, which seldom gets a good spring cleaning, had all its old growth cleared out.

circular bed after 2014 holding area after
blue&yellow after back slope cleaned up

alchemilla pleated foliageOne of my favorite sights in the spring garden is the new pleated foliage of Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis). By the time I see the garden again in a few weeks, lots of new green growth will be up and spring flowers will be blooming.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2014 6:52 am

    Winter lasted so long there almost wasn’t time for spring. 🙂 I raked our beds a couple of weeks back and they are now full of life. I can only imagine how beautiful your gardens will look on your next arrival. 🙂

    • May 11, 2014 9:32 pm

      Judy, I was talking with a Maine friend on the phone this evening, and she was telling me how warm it’s been this weekend. I imagine all kinds of things have popped up in my garden. I’ll be there to see them in less than two weeks.

  2. May 7, 2014 7:07 am

    Amazing Jean how much further behind you are to us and we are so far behind…I barely got mine cleaned up since it is so wet here….but the weeding has to be done and now I will be laid up again as they take over even more…what a sweet welcome home you will have when you return.

    • May 11, 2014 9:36 pm

      Donna, One advantage of gardening on glacial sand is that the soil drains pretty instantaneously once the ground thaws. I’m sure there will be more weeding to be done when I get home, but it really felt good to get the ground prepared for all that new plant growth.

  3. May 7, 2014 7:33 am

    Ah, Jean, it’s the same here in zone 4. You did quite a lot of work there, in spite of the cool temps though. I’m at the time when things aren’t quite up enough for me to clear away debris (lest I should damage something) but I’ve been gently working away where I can.

    Love those tiny crocus blooms!

    • May 11, 2014 9:37 pm

      Diane, Are you seeing signs of spring by now? I also love those little crocus blooms. I was hoping to see some Iris reticulata flowers, too, but they were nowhere to be seen.

  4. May 7, 2014 2:03 pm

    I hope you’ve seen the last of winter for awhile, Jean. after all that work, you deserve some more flowers on your next visit!

    • May 11, 2014 9:40 pm

      Kris, Already winter is just a vague memory. (Maine doesn’t normally get those May snowstorms that can hit Colorado and Minnesota.) I’m sure there will be lots of flowers to greet me when I return to Maine for good in two weeks.

  5. May 7, 2014 4:46 pm

    Hi Jean, I can’t get over how late the season has started for you. We’ve had all our spring flowering plants come and go and we’re now waiting for the early summer starters. The major spring clean looks more like a transformation – a fair amount of hard work but at least you’ll notice the lack of weeds of it.

    • May 11, 2014 9:42 pm

      Sunil, Spring never arrives in Maine until April, but usually it’s a bit further along than this by the end of April. I always find spring clean-up very satisfying because the transformation is so dramatic. After this year, though, it will be nice to be able to do it at a more leisurely pace.

  6. May 10, 2014 8:11 am

    I love the Lady’s Mantle too! I have a miniature variety that is delightful! I wish I could take some of my favorites when I move. However, the movers wont take live plants in the truck!

    • May 11, 2014 9:44 pm

      Jayne, I’ve been trying to figure out the moving plants dilemma, too. There are a lot of plants from my Gettysburg garden that I want to take north with me; I think my car is going to be a rolling nursery (especially since all my houseplants have to go, too!). I’m planning to ship a lot of what I usually take with me in the car by UPS to make more room for plants. I’ve decided to dig up plant divisions a day or two before I drive north and transport them in plastic bags so that I can squeeze them into tighter spaces.

  7. May 10, 2014 12:38 pm

    Sorry for the late spring – this is the first year in several that our spring isn’t on the late side. Good job cleaning out those beds, wow, that’s a lot of work.

    • May 11, 2014 9:46 pm

      VW, I think the same weather patterns that gave the east coast months of unseasonably cool weather brought you some warmth. Cleaning out the flower beds is a lot of work, but it’s not super strenuous. I just take my wheelbarrow out and fill it up with load after load of debris. And the end results are so gratifying!

  8. May 12, 2014 8:01 am

    I am so happy for you having at last a splash of spring! I have been following the news about your long, long winter and I can imagine what a joy to at least have some warming. Enjoy!

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