Mud Season is here

– Posted in: Mud Season, Weather

I can tell by the dirty footprints leading from the front door to the bathroom. All the compacted snow is off our driveway, which used to be a gravel driveway but is now a dirt driveway, due to all the snow shoveling over the years, which throws both snow and gravel onto the lawn. (You try to rake it back into the driveway, but you never get it all.) And a dirt driveway this time of year is a mud driveway.

muddy driveway

A muddy driveway, just before sunset.

Well, the birthday garden, which has a southern exposure and borders the driveway, has lost three-fourths of its snow cover, and I can definitely see some snowdrops! Not the ‘S. Arnott’ ones, but some smaller ones that I just poked into the ground when I unearthed them somewhere else and promptly forgot about. No telling if they’ll have enough oomph to bloom this year. But it’s definitely encouraging. More encouragement: it’s not even supposed to get below freezing tonight, and it’s supposed to rain. Nothing like a good steady rain to melt the snow and drive the frost out of the ground. Last week we had gloriously sunny days but very cold nights, often below zero. That did melt the snow some, but also put a glaze of ice over everything in the morning. This whole week promises to be milder at night, and rain is predicted for several of those days. Most of our snow should be gone by the end of the week, I’m thinking.

But of course we know this is not the end of winter. Mud season is more like the beginning of the end of winter. We’ll probably get more snow, maybe a lot more snow, as March is known for its blizzards around here. But now it will be interspersed with days when you can do things outside: pruning and tidying up and weeding. I went through the birthday garden and cut down all the dead stalks and pulled out as much of the dead quack grass leaves as I could, basically making it neater for when the snowdrops do their thing. The soil was still too frozen to pull weeds, though. And I’m going to have my work cut out for me, too, when it can be weeded.

Talk about weeds–I am strongly considering pulling out all the Malva alcea ‘Fastigiata’ I have in that bed–all six extremely well-established original plants and the gazillion seedlings in various stages of takeover. Did I mention it seeds entirely too freely to be called a low maintenance plant? It’s pretty enough, but I’m sorry, it belongs in the hedgerow. And it’s already there, and everywhere else. Did I mention my children like to play sword fighting with the dead, seed-laden stalks? Actually . . . I might have.

malva seedlings

These mallows grow like weeds!

Anyway, if I do pull–er, make that excavate them out, I will let the soil lie fallow for this gardening season, eliminating as many mallows and quack grass as I can. Then, in the fall, I’ll amend the soil well, and next spring I’ll plant a rose or two. Right now ‘Country Dancer,’ a fragrant Griffith Buck rose, is top contender for the spot, but I reserve the right to change my mind several times before the final decision is made. And I may not get around to dealing with the mallows this year. Certainly I’ve got enough unfinished and yet-to-be-started-but-dreamed-of-for-years projects besides mallow eradication. But I think eventually the birthday garden will be primarily deciduous flowering shrubs. As a narrow strip of land between house and driveway, it needs to have more horticultural bulk to balance out the mass of the house. So, if not this year, then some year. It’s always fun to make plans for the garden when the ground is too frozen to implement any of them. It’s like spending a check five times in your head before it actually arrives in the mail. In the end, you just wind up paying bills with it, but the dreaming was fun while it lasted.

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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