Though temperatures this afternoon did not warm as much as anticipated, I was delighted to get out to begin a bit of late winter clean up. Finally, the inactivity of winter caught up to me, so I was anxious to get out into the garden, even as light rain showers passed through. I figured to start with beds closest to the driveway, removing seedheads and old foliage of perennials, and slowly work around to the rear garden, cleaning up and disposing of debris as I went.
Of course, this is not how it worked out, as I was distracted by one thing after another that absolutely must be done or it might be forgotten until its too late. And so, much pulling of seedheads and foliage was accomplished, but piles of debris remain for next weekend if they are not scattered by the wind.
Some parts of the garden remain covered by piles of leaves, though leaves have been removed from hellebores and areas of snowdrops so that flowers can be seen. Probably, I have shredded fewer leaves this year than ever, with the result that whole leaves are sloppier in appearance and will decay somewhat more slowly. Once growth begins in late March, this will hardly be noticed.
Happily, I notice fewer winter weeds than in some years, which is surprising since I recall being tardy a year ago, removing weeds only after many had already gone to seed. Most often the gardener pays for the error of his ways, but with the occasional exception he feels doubly rewarded for his slothful ways.
Some perennials resist the gentle tug, and rather than yanking out clumps of root, the rechargeable hedge trimmer is particularly handy. A wide spread of Mountain mint is easily cut to the ground, revealing a blanket of bright green leaves beneath the woody stems, with a pleasant scent from the mint that is trampled underfoot. The trimmer will not cut through thicker stems of butterfly weed, which will be quick work for another day when I remember to carry pruners.
There are several dead branches in the blackgum in the side garden, and in maples at the forest’s edge that I will note to be removed before they fall onto nearby shrubs. Several rather large branches have fallen since the last time I cleaned up, and again good fortune has guided them to fall between, rather than onto Oakleaf hydrangeas. The dead branches of the blackgum, however, hang over azaleas and a clump of sweetshrubs, and are within reasonable reach by ladder so that I am not risking life and limb.