I prefer doing nothing, or at least delaying doing something as long as possible, sometimes even knowing that next year’s labor will be increased considerably as a result of my sloth. Long ago, and repeatedly, I’ve learned that winter weeds must be pulled before going to seed, or the next crop (usually ten or eleven months later) will be a bigger problem. But, to say I’ve learned and that I pluck weeds before they go to seed, is quite different. Sometimes I do, but more often I curse the current bumper crop caused by the previous year’s failure.
Several weeks into winter, I’ve made little progress in cleaning up the garden prior to spring growth. As always, there’s much to be done, but mostly it doesn’t matter if I do the work today or a month from now. Then, if there’s a foot of snow, or it’s twelve degrees outside, I can delay even further without too much harm. There are a few tasks that must be done on time, and no matter the weather, these will get done. If piles of leaves must be moved and shredded to see flowers of hellebores (above), it’ll get done.
It’s not that I haven’t accomplished a thing. Deep piles of leaves that covered the front walk and back patios were cleaned up before guests arrived for Thanksgiving, and the leaning Gold Cone juniper that had been cockeyed since a late March nor’easter was finally chopped and roots dug out on a cool afternoon last week. So, that’s a start, but there are piles of leaves to shred covering a third of the garden that won’t go away quickly enough on their own, perennials that must be cut back before they begin to grow, and I don’t even want to think of repairs necessary to the lower third of the rear garden that has been flooded for much of the past six months.
There’s a dead Chinese dogwood to remove, and hopefully nothing else dies in this ground that remains swampy. A Japanese maple on higher ground is almost certainly dead, and I can see that the overflow area of the koi pond has overflowed a few too many times in this rainy year. The stone wall that retains the back side must be carefully torn down, backfilled, and compacted before rebuilding the wall. If this is delayed too long I fear the wall will collapse and the pond will go dry, at least half dry, and that’s a much bigger deal for waiting too long.
I don’t know if there’s more or less to be done than in a typical year, but in any case these are not projects I’m looking forward to. Probably, each will require only a few hours, but I’m pretty certain I’m getting older and lazier by the day. It sure is nice that there’s no urgency in the middle of winter.