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Spring Clean-Up

May 2, 2019

April crocusesApril was the month for spring clean-up in my garden. I do little garden clean-up in the fall. Autumn is a busy time of year for me, with garden projects to be completed and firewood to be stacked; so, unless I have some disease or pest problem that demands action, I take in garden furniture, containers, and plant supports and leave the rest for spring.

Several inches of new snow in the first ten days of April delayed the start of spring clean-up, but by mid-April, flower beds were emerging from under the snow. As they did so, I got to work cleaning them up. (Because I live and garden on very sandy soil, I don’t need to worry about soil compaction from working in wet garden beds.)

deck border before 2019 deck border after 2019

I find spring clean-up a very satisfying activity. You start out with a messy tangle of stems, debris and matted leaves and end up with areas of bare soil and fresh shoots of new growth.

back slope before 2019 back slope after 2019

After a long winter, that new growth is a welcome sight. I never get tired of the lovely pleated new foliage of Lady’s  mantle (Alchemilla mollis), or the fresh mounds of green leaves on Geranium and Heuchera. The new foliage of Allium and goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) foretell flowers in the weeks to come, and the new growth of daylilies (Hemerocallis) holds out the promise of high summer.

new spring growth

Best of all, though, spring clean-up reveals a hillside of flowering crocuses.

side slope crocus blooms

10 Comments leave one →
  1. joyce m boos permalink
    May 2, 2019 4:37 pm

    Thank you Jean. You always write beautifully, that which I find I would like to say. Our gardens give us life in the Spring, especially after a long, cold Winter. Spring seems 2 weeks later than most Aprils this year,
    but the joy of the garden always brings hope for the beauty we will enjoy.

    • May 2, 2019 4:46 pm

      Joyce, On this gray May day when temperatures barely got into the forties, my garden seems to be in a state of suspended animation. I keep reminding myself, “Warmer weather will come; warmer weather will come; warmer weather will come.” When it does, the plants will shoot up.

  2. May 2, 2019 10:21 pm

    It must feel wonderful to have your garden ready to jump into its Spring growth cycle, Jean. The Crocuses are a beautiful introductory chord in what I hope will soon be a symphony. I’m already looking over my shoulder (with some apprehension) to see if summer is sneaking up on us but, thus far at least, it’s been a very cool and comfortable spring on the left coast.

    • May 6, 2019 9:00 pm

      Kris, We finally got some warm (near 70F) and sunny weather here in the past two days, and plants responded. My daffodils and forsythia are in bloom, and I can see new growth on all kinds of plants that weren’t previously visible. I hope your weather stays cool and mine continues warm!

  3. May 5, 2019 7:53 am

    Glad to see that you’re finally able to start! I love the crocus bank. You need that shot of color after all those months of white.

    • May 6, 2019 9:02 pm

      Bittster, Absolutely! This is why I’ve never been able to get into planting snowdrops for early blooms. I don’t want white flowers when spring finally gets here; I want as much color as I can get.

  4. May 5, 2019 11:33 pm

    Do those crocus bloom annually? They do not get enough chill here, which is why I do not plant them. They bloom well the first year, and about a third as well the following year, and a third the following year, until there is nothing left.

    • May 6, 2019 9:04 pm

      Hi Tony, With five months of snow cover, we clearly have enough chill for the crocuses! I planted 350 crocus bulbs on this hillside and near the foundation in fall of 2016. This is the third year they have bloomed; so far, all the clumps have come back each year and most of the clumps have gotten larger each year so far.

      • May 8, 2019 3:27 am

        I learned about crocus from someone from Pennsylvania. When I was a kid, I really liked them, and believed that they would naturalize.

  5. May 20, 2019 3:25 pm

    Hello Jean, I find the spring garden cleaning very therapeutic too (although it’s also sometimes frantic) it feels like “resetting” the garden for the next season and it all looks neat and tidy for a while until everything grows up and gets out of control. As for alchemilla mollis, I’m vary wary of introducing that to the garden because of it’s reputation for self-seeding everywhere.

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