How many treasures disappear over winter & re-appear in spring?
How many are then weeded out by mistake?
Some treasures, like crocus, send out blooms straight away, so they’re safe.
Others, like cyclamen, have really distinctive leaves, so they’re safe too.
But there are so many others…
The wee Blue Eyed Iris is one treasure I’ve weeded out. (I mistook it for grass…. turns out its also called Blue Eyed GRASS! Go figure. )
Shooting Star is another victim. (I mistake the young leaves for dandelion.)
From these tragedies, I’ve become a little more cautious.
The other day I was crawling around on our mountain (rocky outcropping), looking closely at plants growing in the moss.
So what is this – – Treasure ? Weed??
My twitchy fingers pluck out those blades of grass, but cautiously hold off on the other little plants.
Today I rejoice! They’ve proven themselves to be the native annual: Sea Blush. (I can recognize the flower.)
Caution pays off.
Thank goodness they’ve thrown a couple early blooms. I don’t know how long I’d have held off from weeding them. Now I’ll carefully tidy any competition around these gems & look forward to the moss blushing a lovely pink this April.
My morning coffee entertainment is watching the birds relay food to their voracious young back in the nest. If I’m lucky, one of these mornings I’ll get to watch the little ones fledge.
If you’re gung-ho about watering hanging baskets all summer, basket-stuffers galore are at all the plant sales this month. When choosing plants, keep in mind whether the basket lives in a sunny or shady location. Another handy design strategy is providing some “thrill, spill & fill” in each container.
Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli, canna lilies & such), Many folks grew them inside over the past month or two, and move them into the ground now. At the same time as planting the dahlias, put in the stakes. They’re not needed right now, but they will be later, and then there’s a greater risk of damaging the roots.
Begonias, geraniums, & other tender plants that have also been over-wintered inside can be set in the garden now. Even tropical house plants can go out to a dappled spot on the deck. It’s amazing how much faster they grow outside in the summer.
Even though they’re small now, pinch back snapdragons by 1/2… they’ll respond by growing bushier & produce more blooms.
Cut back the euphorbias after their big show. Letting them go to seed in the garden is sheer folly. These garden thugs spread easily enough through underground runners.
Dead-heading spent blooms can spur some plants into another flush of flowers
Wander through the beds digging the weeds… This is also an opportunity to downsize populations of snails, slugs & tent caterpillars as you discover them
Unless you’re totally cool with widespread volunteers next year, cut back or pull out the centurea, forget me nots, cerinthe and other heavy seeders after their blooms are done.
Whether it’s garden hoses, or a fully automated system, it’s time to prep irrigation before it’s really needed. Replacing rubber gaskets & rings reduces that nasty dribble at the hose connection.
When you water, water slowly and deeply in the early morning or evening when the air is cool and calm.
If there are bare patches that you’d like to seed over, go for it. Keep that area moist to give the seeds some support until established.
Keeping the mower blade above 2 inches will provide a lush lawn, and also enough leaf cover to give the grass’ roots a little shade (so they don’t dry out so quickly).
The meadow grasses on our rocky outcropping are ready to go to seed, so C heads out there with the whipper-snipper. That way the seed doesn’t spread into the beds
If the lawn gets 1 inch of water every two weeks, it’ll still will turn the color of straw in the heat of summer but will bounce back super quickly after temperatures cool in fall.
Veg & Berry Patch
As it’s warming up, give the ‘starts’ some outside time during the day to harden off… they’ll be ready to plant outside by the Victoria Day long weekend
herbs: Plant heat-loving seedlings of annual herbs like basil, cilantro, & parsley. Perennial herbs, like chives (blooming now), oregano, rosemary, and thyme find permanent homes in my borders. Take care with mints – they should go into containers to keep them from invading the world.
As the potatoes start to grow, ‘hilling up’ (adding extra soil around the stems) will help the plants produce more.
Enjoy the fresh rhubarb, but leave a few stems to help the plant feed the roots & produce a bigger crop next year.
The birds are waking me up with the sunrise at this time of year. They’re busy nesting & hooking up. The bird bath is occasionally dry now, so it’s good to give it a good cleaning & refill. Even birds need a nice spa treatment when things are hectic, right?
Keep the lawn mower blades sharpened & the proper bits lubricated as the machine is back in regular use now.
Give the garden hoses & sprinklers a good once over to be sure they’re in shape for the upcoming dry season.
Keep those pruners & clippers sharp, too!
It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
Pinch back snapdragon & other summer bloomers to promote bushier plants & more blooms
Shear back winter heathers after blooms peter out.
Shear back rosemary.
Prune conifers when the bright new growth starts to darken to the matching shade of green (as needed to contain size)
Prune stone fruit trees while blooming (plum, peach, cherry, nectarine…)
Roses can be pruned when the forsythia is in bloom.
Prune back ornamental grasses 4-6 inches from the ground & compost clippings.
Once the Corsican Hellebore is finished blooming the whole stem can be cut to the ground. New stems will bloom next year.
Forsythia & Other flowering shrubs should be pruned right after flowering so they have the full growing season to prepare for next year’s bloom
start with removing dead, diseased & damaged limbs
then take out crossing branches, & give the interior of the shrub some breathing space
take out some old branches to allow for fresh growth
try not to get too crazy… 1/3 of the living growth is plenty 🙂
Add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding
Sprinkle horticultural lime around clematis & scratch it into mulch
If you’re really wanting a lush lawn, now’s the optimum time to fertilize.
Fertilize spring bulbs after bloom so that they can soak up as many nutrients & rebuild the bulbs for next year.
note: Let the leaves (solar panels) can soak up as much goodness from the sunshine to help out with the rebuild
Plant summer flowering bulbs (dahlias, gladioli & lilies), depending on the soil conditions. They don’t like sitting in waterlogged soils.
Sow sweet peas and hardy annuals such as alyssum & marigolds.
New rhodos, camellias & other spring temptations are in the nurseries. Get newly acquired plants into ground ASAP
dig the hole just a bit wider & deeper than the pot leaving some loose soil in the bottom
add bone meal as a root booster & compost as a fertilizer… stir in some water
gently tap plant out of its container & set in hole so that it matches ground level… fill in hole with mix of compost & original soil … firm in
water well so air pockets bubble out of any places around the roots
With the temperature increasing so is growth. Thank goodness for that January mulching! It helps keep moisture in the soil, but also really deters weeds. Wander through the beds digging the occasional perennial weed (dandelion) as well as any snails or slugs as you discover them.
If the mulching didn’t happen, keep a check on the carpet of young weeds and remove them before they take hold… Pop weed goes to seed quickly, so get rid of it fast!
Peonies are jumping out of the ground. Before the plants get so big that branches will break during support installation, get those peony rings in place. (I use tomato cages instead)