Spring Clean Up

Posted 3/18/08
by Jane Kashlak

We crawl out of our hibernation and almost head back into the house. It's cold outside, too cold to garden.

But even though it's overcast and dreary, last year's debris must be dealt with. Garden Partner takes the easy way out - he's off with the clippers, shearing back the butterfly bushes.

I do the more tedious assignment - snapping off each and every limb of the sedums, the verbena, the coneflowers, the sage. Some break easy, others need to be convinced with pruning shears. Let no one mislead you - spring clean up is hard work.

This is what a perennial garden looks like in June:

Here's the same garden in March:

Big difference. These are pictures you'll never see in garden magazines or flower catalogs - for good reason.

If you knew that, for several months of the year, your garden would look like a bunch of dried up sticks, why would you want to plant a perennial flower bed in the first place?

Why not just plant a nice tidy row of evergreens.

Or level the whole thing and go for grass.

Or forget about nature entirely and pave the whole thing over.

Some people, in an attempt to make their garden relevant year round, try to give their gardens "winter interest."

But be real. A few red winterberries are not going to do it. If you live in Cape May, NJ, your garden will always look a tad shabby in the cold months.

So you - or someone you designate - will be out there each March, clearing the dead plants away.

Could be that's why you see more and more pavers and stone lawns and concrete instead of real live plants.

There's only one problem with that.

Concrete and stone don't bloom in the spring.

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