This surreal spring

Carla Allen
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Pinch me. This can't be happening. It's March 21 and I'm working in the gardens wearing capris and a light t-shirt. I lucked out and have what must be one of the warmest weeks this spring for vacation.

It’s time to prune back your blue hydrangea. You can snip off at least the top third or half of this shrub. Make sure you do it above the buds.Carla Allen photo


Yesterday was spent on a step ladder fishing through grapevines for the weakest ones. Those and many more were snipped in a major pruning to encourage better branching in the proper direction.

Then a messy jumble of sweet autumn clematis was gathered up and tied to the arbour with stronger sections of rope than what was used last year.

Today the wheelbarrow is loaded with a bucket for weeds, cultivators, hand pruners and kneeling pad. It's time to set out.

The dead stems on that giant clump of Greek oregano need to be snipped to ground level. It's beginning to crowd the azalea next to it so in goes the shovel, slicing unmercifully along the edge. The severed part is shaken out and discarded. This herb spreads fast by root and also self-seeds.

Enchanted by forget-me-nots, I added them to the garden a few years ago. Big mistake. They multiply like rabbits and are best planted in an open woodland, where the ugly, greying seed-heads aren't noticed quite so much. I take pity on those I uproot today and transplant them to a container.

The climbing roses and carpet roses are pruned and ready for a heavy feeding of bone meal and sheep manure tomorrow. Raking the lawn beneath the chestnut trees takes an hour of my time.

The buds on the blue hydrangeas and butterfly bush are visible now and should be pruned before they become much bigger. There's less chance of bruising or accidentally breaking them at this stage.

A peek at the lilac bush shows it's necessary to rub off all the buds that are trying to break out on the lower trunk. I want this plant to branch at the top only, not all along the trunk.

There are little clumps of moss in places. I lift those out and dispose of them and make a mental note to add lime to that area, but not around the azaleas or rhododendrons. They prefer acidic soil.

Some of the chrysanthemums I planted last fall survived, I see, peeking down through the dead stems before I snip them to a height of two inches. I'll have to remember to pinch those back later on to make them thicker.

Good thing the weatherman is giving fine weather for tomorrow. The ornamental grass needs a haircut and I might give a go at transplanting my monkey tree.




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