A late start


There are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up with the chores necessary to maintain this garden in early spring. There are piles and piles of leaves to collect. Beneath every shrub and in every corner there are leaves accumulated from the maples and tulip poplars that border the garden, and through the winter big, leathery sycamore leaves blew in from the neighbor’s property down the street. These are particularly annoying because, unlike the maple leaves that decay quickly, these stick around for half of the spring if they’re not removed. I thought I did an adequate job of cleaning up in November, but the evidence today shows that I did not.Crocus in mid March

Thankfully, the winter weeds are not so bad this spring, but now that it’s warming up they’re multiplying quickly, and if I don’t get to them soon they’ll be everywhere. Perennials and grasses must be cut back, and ponds cleaned. When only two days of labor are permitted in March due to the ice, snow, and bitter cold ….. well, things are just not going to get done all by their lonesome. In fact, I know that everything will be accomplished sooner than later, or at least everything that must be done will be. A few chores will slip through the cracks, I’m certain, and if I plan well enough these will never show and the garden will not be the worse for it.Primrose

I talk about, but seldom get much accomplished prior to the first of March. In theory, there are at minimum a handful of days in January, and usually more in February when a motivated gardener can get out to lessen the work list that must be performed once spring hits. At best, I might get around to working a day or two for a few hours during the winter, so the garden annually arrives in spring as nearly a disaster, and a lot needs to be done in a hurry once temperatures warm up. Of course, this winter there was one good excuse after another why nothing could be done outdoors, and unfortunately, the excuses continued far into March.Little Heath pieris in late March

Now, it’s mid April, and the only thing that’s saved me is that spring growth has been delayed by the cold, which has given me a bit of leeway. The last few weekends have had nice weather, so much has been accomplished. But, the spring chores typically take at least three and sometimes four full weekends, so as I see it there is one more weekend of tasks to be completed. It seems like more time will be needed, and perhaps that’s because I’m a year older and that much slower than a year ago. I hope that’s not the case, and I imagine that I can accomplish just as much today as ten and twenty years ago. No kidding.Hyacinth

If it was not for the huge maple that fell in a December ice storm in the side garden, and cold damage to half hardy evergreens that I’ve had to fool with, I think that I’d be much further along than I am. The shattered tree required a new chainsaw and several days of labor, as well as an afternoon wasted with a trip to the emergency room. This was nothing major, just a blow from the tree’s trunk that split my forehead wide open. I thought a bandage would do the trick, but my wife insisted that I would not look so pretty with a jagged scar extending from my hairline nearly to the eyebrow. This was a waste of several hours and though the head is healed, still I haven’t made up for the lost time.Hellebore in early April

A truck load of chokeberries, sweetshrubs, and hydrangeas I brought home, and the box of Southeast Asian oddities ordered by mail have also taken some time, though several hydrangeas and a few others wait patiently on the driveway for me to figure out where they’ll be planted. Once a planting location is determined the digging goes quickly, but as I walk around the garden wondering if this spot is too shady, or sunny, or too wet, valuable time is wasted. Gardening should not seem like such a rush, but for four weekends in March (or April), every hour must be productive.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I have a small garden in Brooklyn but I can relate to everything you’re experiencing. For me, those uncompleted Fall chores (so many leaves to rake) are now waiting to be completed. Who wants to rake leaves when there are plants to be planted and shrubs to be pruned!

    1. Dave says:

      I made excellent progress over the weekend, and now I’m feeling nearly caught up, which is about as good as I ever get. Still, there are hydrangeas on the driveway waiting to be planted, but I’ll get around to those soon. It’s so easy to get distracted by so many blooms.

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