My First Garden Patrol of the Year

– Posted in: Garden chores, What's up/blooming
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This is our third day of mild weather (in the 60s today!) but my first opportunity to get out and take a look. There are snowdrops well up in the Secret Garden with snow all around them. I wonder if the rest of the snowdrops there are up, too, and just hidden from sight? Maybe they had already sprouted when I went to look at them earlier, but who would know with a foot-and-a-half of snow above them? The snowdrops that I bought as Sam Arnott are just poking through. The south-facing side of the driveway has crocus and snowdrops emerging; the north-facing side is still covered in snow. My Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’ wasn’t gnawed by the rodents, but the bark seems to be slipping right off the stem at the base of the plant. I hope my expensive little stick is all right.

The rodents have certainly been busy under cover of snow, though. Vole tunnels are everywhere, and the wild rose by the side of the house, which I think is Rosa palustris, looks like a public bunny toilet, there are so many droppings there. I mourn the untimely death of Puddy-tat, our most excellent mouser, and fear I will have ever more reason to mourn as the season progresses.

I had hoped to do some pruning, but discovered the hard way that my tools are disgustingly, embarassingly dull. I know Rundy can sharpen the hand pruners, but I wonder if there is a secret method to sharpening anvil loppers. Maybe I will let him give it his best shot, and if he ruins them I will have an excuse to buy new ones. One of the shrubs I had been planning to prune has stems so thick I should use the pruning saw on it, so I will probably ask Rundy or Lachlan for help with that. Since pruning was out, I tidied up the Birthday Garden a bit–broke off the tops of dead perennials, cut back the ‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint which was already showing new growth, and mulched some columbines that I planted last fall. The instructions from White Flower Farm said to mulch them after the ground freezes to prevent heaving. However, the snow started falling before the ground froze, and I don’t think it ever did freeze under all that snow; I had no trouble pulling weeds today. However, we will certainly be having freezing weather, perhaps even sub-zero weather, before mud season is over, and these columbines will be more vulnerable to heaving now than they were all winter. So they get their “winter” mulch now. For this same reason I refrained from raking the bed out, not to mention the fact that Deirdre woke up from her nap and my playtime was over.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

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Rob March 18, 2003, 9:31 pm

I just wanted to say that my sister Kathy has an awesome blog!!!!!