More cleanup stages

I recently remarked two things: first, that my spring cleanup has started. Not that spring is actually here yet, as yesterday's low of 19ºF (-7ºC) made perfectly clear, but the warm days are coming more regularly now, breaking up the cold, giving hope to those of us longing for spring.


Second, I noted that I approach garden cleanup in stages, in multiple passes. The first pass does a pretty good job but doesn't leave the beds "finished". I'll come back in a week or two (or more) and give them the finishing touches if needed. This past weekend I took first pass at my "prairie" beds, starting with the groundcover bamboo on its border -- its camera-blinding brightness in the sunlight got my attention first, and you have to start somewhere.

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Rather than showing a bunch of ugly photos of individual plant remains from last year and following each with an almost-pointless image of the freshly-cleared ground, I thought I'd show a few overall shots of the entire area, before, during, and after.

Here's the "before" view (click for much larger version):


It's difficult to remember what this looked like last summer, before browns and greys filled the palette.

Would you like a reminder? Prepare yourself, as it will be a shocking difference... I've got a photo from July of the right side of the above panoramic shot, showing the bamboos, the purple Monarda in the foreground, and the lavender between (which is grey in the photo above).

Are you prepared?


I don't know about you, but the green almost hurts my eyes! How quickly I forget what the garden looks like each winter.

Back to the cleanup. I call this area the "prairie" because it contains a mixture of grasses and native wildflowers -- but not exclusively so (as evidenced by the bamboo and roses). It's one of my favorite parts of the garden, and I've gotten quite efficient at cleaning it up each year. I first go through with my once-frustrating but now quite-nice-to-use shears (remember that I modified them last year) cutting everything down:


Then I rake it all up and cart the trimmings off to the compost pile, leaving the area "clean" and ready for the new growth to emerge:


This area of the garden changes quite a bit each year, as I let almost everything here reseed: grasses, the Ratibida, the rattlesnake master, Agastache, salvias -- and things don't always grow exactly where I want them to. Things creep around a bit, the path shifting slightly down the hill, plants jumping from one bed to the next. It's exactly what I want in this part of the garden!

Now I just sit back, wait for the sun to warm the soil, waken those who are slumbering, germinate the seeds of those who are gone, and for spring to arrive.


(And apparently cut down lots of dead bamboo culms.)

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Ally  – (March 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM)  

Holy bamboo! That's quite a difference. You're a brave soul if you're doing garden cleanup in that cold. I always like to wait for a bit of warmth, which can be tricky here in Texas. Seems like one day it's freezing cold and the next everything is budding out. Trimming and cleanup is definitely an easier task when everything is still dormant.

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