This week the temperatures softened just enough to keep spring from hitting the snooze button again and made being outside in the gardens totally irresistible. We didn’t leave a lot in the Rose or North Gardens to cut back (we adhere to the tradition of putting those gardens “to bed” in the fall for the sake of winter appearances — tidiness — and vole infestation prevention) but went in from the edges to rake matted leaves off of emerging bulb foliage and check for other signs of life. Spring is definitely springing, no fooling. The crocuses were out in force (and forcing me down for my annual belly shots), Iris reticulata are signaling the official opening of the don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it phase of spring (Iris reticulata ‘Pixie’ pictured above), and the witch hazels are in full bloom.
In the Idea Beds where we left stems and seedheads standing through the winter for habitat and interest, we had much more to do to awaken spring. But I love waiting until now to cut everything back. For one thing I’m raring to go. And for another I tend to forget between fall and spring what plants are where and there’s no better memory refreshener (besides labeling) than cutting them back and eyeballing emerging foliage plant by plant. We’re still taking it slowly. We haven’t pruned the roses yet and are waiting for the soil to dry out a little more before we go stepping into the beds (and even then we’ll use boards to distribute our weight and minimize compaction). We’re waiting too for the last of the snow to melt, which should happen over tonight and this weekend by the looks of the forecast. And we only brush mulch and shredded leaves off emerging foliage rather than raking it off completely. Some gardeners (like me when I’m at home) even leave the trimmed debris in the beds as mulch instead of hauling it to the compost pile. Even though this week’s work outside was just a start, it was physically gratifying (read exhausting — are we out of shape?) and aesthetically pleasing too. A bare garden is chock-full of promise.
Blithewold officially opened for the season this week! Alas, there aren’t any daffodils in bloom yet, but their buds came up with the foliage and will just need a few warm days and nights to begin opening. I’ll definitely keep you posted.
Is your garden waking up or still hitting the snooze? Do you cut it back in the fall or spring?