6 pre-spring chores i’m anxious to do
I AM FEELING URGENT, THOUGH THE MUD says wait, and there’s barely a thing but me and a winter aconite (above) awake. But as soon as I can approach the beds and borders, or really walk around here on solid (not squishy) ground, here’s what I am going to hurry and do:
1. Target earliest bloomers like Euphorbia for immediate cutbacks. Don’t try letting them re-grow from up above; it’s too strenuous for their good. Ask them to push anew from the base by giving an end-of-winter severe haircut, down near the base. Even later-bloomers that grow from those dense, cushion-like crowns (Sedum spectabile, such as ‘Autumn Joy,’ comes to mind) will be easier to clean up now than once they start to push.
2. Evergreen or otherwise-persistent perennial foliage (European ginger or Asarum europaeum, Helleborus, Epimedium) that will soon be replaced with a fresh flush of leaves needs to go, too. Yes, the plant will do just fine even if you leave it on…but will look so much tidier if you snip off and compost last year’s leaves. Another that I need to get to fast in this category: Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon,’ the grasslike variegated sweet flag. Impossible to clean it up once it gets going again.
3. Cut down ornamental grasses. Mice and all the rest of the garden undesirables are thinking it’s the Maternity Ward in there, I fear, so off with their heads (the grasses’, that is), right by the base, asap.
4. Empty bird boxes. Bluebirds won’t accept a dirty box, and I always hope for at least one family of bluebirds a year. Wear a glove when you do this task; more than one nesting mouse has run up my arm in the process. Ugh.
5. Muck fallen leaves from the frog ponds. This annual ritual, accomplished gently with endless swoops of a fish net, digs up more than debris. Then I’ll get the filters and pumps set up and running, too.
One thing I am not going to do, contrary to the American obsessive-compulsive lawn disorder I was brought up to believe in: feed the lawn. If I feed, it’s in fall, when the food will be used to encourage lawn-strengthening downward root growth instead of green stuff up top. I may order some all-natural organic lawn food during the spring sales, but it will be for fall use.