Looking better?

Warmer days have come and although we've taken a step back into slightly cooler air this week, it's time for me to start cleaning up the planting beds.


There are some crocus poking through the debris, and the daffodil foliage is making a good push through now, so it's time to get rid of the debris from last year. Thus begins my most conflicted time of year in the garden: I love the arrival of warmer weather and watching the plants awaken, but hate the barrenness of the perennial beds.



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I think I'll post before/after photo combos here so you can more easily see the differences.

This bed definitely looks better after cleanup, but that's only because there's plenty of green pushing through the ground here:



The rest, well, now looks barren.

I really hate cutting down grasses, as I miss what they add to the winter garden...



I leave the dead stems and leaves until spring because I like the wild look and want to provide sheltering habitat for insects, spiders, toads, and other wildlife.

Yes, the bird feeder pole is leaning a bit


The walkway is certainly bigger now, but can you honestly say that the bed after cleanup is prettier than the "before"? There is almost nothing to look at now, and there won't be for at least a few weeks or more, depending on weather patterns.



I plan on moving a few of these pots around this year, especially the two closest to the foreground of that last image, as the rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) gets so big and shades them out. So easy to forget this once the stems are removed.

There's still much more cleanup to tackle here in the front...


...where I always begin my spring efforts (for the neighbors who always keep their yards so very clean) and much, much more in back.

A large brick was keeping these daffodils from emerging

I won't be posting too much about cleanup efforts as I've done that quite a bit in the past, but spring cleanup time is when I get a good idea about which plants did not survive the winter, and you'll be reading about those unhappy discoveries.  Or not if I'm incredibly lucky this year.

Let's end on a happier note:


These pale yellow crocus are always the first to bloom...


...followed by the purple, whites, and deeper yellows. It's amazing to me how many pointy crocus leaf tips I found poking through fallen leaves -- at least half a dozen!

Daffodils soon too it seems!

Have you other cold-climate gardeners started your spring cleanup yet? (Don't tell me you're one of those fall cleanup people?!)

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outlawgardener  – (March 18, 2015 at 9:10 AM)  

What's this clean up thing? Your beds look ready for a new season! Sometimes we need a barren place so that we better appreciate the magic of spring and summer growth. Most of my leaf litter, etc. stays on the ground but gets pushed aside by early flowering bulbs. On the lawn, the mulching mower takes care of the fall leaves and throws the shredded bits back into the lawn to be worm food. In good years, it gets covered with a uniform mulch which makes things look better. When I'm particularly lazy, it just stays until the plants cover it up again. I do cut down grasses and have done some of those. Not a fan of the fall clean up of the dead plants as it takes away so much winter interest.

Mark and Gaz  – (March 18, 2015 at 11:54 AM)  

Been far too busy and lazy to do any substantial clean up last autumn and in the winter but we'll have to pick up pace soon. Patience is the operative term for now Alan, not long now and those empty beds will be lush and green again :)

Alan  – (March 18, 2015 at 2:51 PM)  

Peter: you don't get barren beds in the PNW, so I imagine motivation in spring might be an issue. Not a bad tradeoff though. :)

Mark/Gaz: I don't think "lazy" would make the list of adjectives I'd use to describe you guys in the garden. Maybe that's your way of saying "we only built one new building this year...". So lazy! ;)

railwayparade  – (March 19, 2015 at 12:05 AM)  

I'm really enjoying your blog, and I'm glad to see you finally getting a bit of warmer weather. As for clean-ups, here in a climate like the PNW, I am fortunate to be able to do this work most of the year round; the perennial beds start to look a little forlorn each spring, but as I can grow evergreen shrubs around them, its not too much of an issue

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