While clearing out I also take an inventory of what needs to be done, what died, what spread out too much and needs some attention as well as any bare spots where I'd like to add a little somethin', somethin'! Always a lot to do.
One of the many tasks to tackle this time of year, clearing out last year's debris.
I got all the dead cleared out this weekend and took stock of how things are coming in for this year. Wow. I just love perennials. Coneflowers can be a little finicky when getting established but after that, any piece of open ground is fair game. They multiple like crazy and the birds spread them all over the place, even into neighboring flower beds.
The corner bed is a product of the new concrete walkway. This is only it's second spring and it's amazing how it's filling in, thanks to the wonderful world of perennials.
Here is one of the older, larger plants and it's surrounded by little babies, they're everywhere.
See all those little green plants in the lower bed. I didn't plant those, a garden's best friend (and sometimes worst enemy, depending on your perspective), the birdies did. They are popping up everywhere.
I spent a couple years volunteering at a local Botanical Garden and I remember my first day weeding, they told me a weed is "any plant not where it is intended to be", I'd never heard that before and it still goes against the grain for me. I tend to let these little "weeds" fill in and grow just about anywhere they land, leaving a naturalistic interpretation to my gardens (sometimes a little too much so, but gotta take the good with the bad right). This part of the garden is going to be fabulous this year, can't wait to see it in bloom.
Another task for this time of year, pruning.
A general guide for when to prune; if it blooms in the spring, wait to prune till after its bloomed. If it blooms in the summer/fall, prune in the spring. I tend to go through now when the leaves aren't on yet and prune out any weird branches (those that criss-cross over another branch or give an odd shape to the tree/bush) as well as suckers coming up from the bottom. Now is the perfect time because you can actually see what you're doing. Here's a few examples of bushes I worked on this weekend:
This is a large hydrangea that my mother gave me years ago. Every year it gets these branches that come up straight from the bottom and grow through the top. I cut them out every spring and again in the fall.
Fertilize and Check for any Pests?Do you have problems with these little bag worms, well, after a little more research I think they're actually tent caterpillars, but I digress, how do you deal with them? My husband sprays them and kills them off with pesticides but I'd love to find a more natural approach. Every year this bush (either a cherry or plum, I can't remember) gets a horrible case of worms! Usually they form the sack right at the base and there's no way to simply cut them out without losing the whole bush. This year, they've already started but on a smaller, outer branch. I cut if off and threw it in the fire with the rest of the garden debris.
I don't do much when it comes to fertilizing, feeding the plants. The best they get is a shaking of Miracle Grow (which I haven't done yet but will soon). I have really good luck with most plants and tend to gravitate towards natives and hardy versions, which helps. If they need a lot of TLC they tend to die around here.
Divide and Conquer?
This is also the time I tend to dig up and divide perennials. Yes, sometimes I lose the flower for this season but I get a jump on next year and they get established and even multiply this growing season. Worth the loss of this year's flower to me.
These are Astilbes coming up. Perfect time to divide them and get them going somewhere else. I simply dig up the plant and using my shovel (in the case of the Siberian Iris, an axe) cut it in half or fourths, depending on the size of the plant.
Hosta's, Astilbes, Siberian Iris and many of the Ornamental Grasses are perfect candidates for dividing.
Not only dividing but has your garden grown in such a way that some movement is in order? I know I've come across a couple bushes that could use a new home, perennials have choked them out and it's either clean out perennials or move bushes. Either way it's a job that needs done and now is the best time to give it a whirl.
Last on my list for right now, mulch!
While cleaning out the debris I've also come across patches in my landscaping in desperate need of a fresh layer of mulch. I have a couple rather invasive species at the moment and really the only time to get mulch in is right now, before they've grown in so thick. If the area is large enough I put down newspaper first and then throw on the mulch, otherwise a thick layer of mulch is sufficient to help keep the weeds at bay and keep the soil cooler and the moisture in.
These are the things that this weekend has brought to my attention. Do you have any tasks to add to the list? Feel free to share.