Here in Portland we are still very much in the heart of winter, which of course means rain and cool temperatures. Peak gardening season is many months away. But I’m a gardener and despite the calendar telling me it’s February I need to be outside.
It may take some time to be rewarded for my toil. The roses I prune won’t put out new growth anytime soon, no buds or blossoms. The leaves and other debris dugout of from inside the hydrangeas lower branches will get no one to take notice. The grasses cut back, the perennials trimmed to the ground will not prompt any praise.
Winter gardening is really about setting the stage and having the yard prepared and in good order when the temperatures rise and your plants spring to life.
In ideal circumstances the fall cleanup was meticulously executed. The leaves were raked and removed, twigs and other debris were disposed of and plants put to bed with a dusting of fertilizer. But no matter how thorough you were in November and December, by February you are bound do have leaves that blew in from the neighbors yard and other chores to look after.
Often I leave ornamental grasses upright in the fall to add some interest and motion to the yard. Some perennials are allowed an extended stay as well. Sometimes this is done so the birds have seeds to dine on, while others it’s because I still find them attractive. But now it is February and the first day of Spring is not so far away, Sunday March 20th to be precise. It is time to put the remains of last year’s glory to rest and prepare for this seasons spectacles.
This is a great time to prune and renew the shape of trees and shrubs. It is really the ideal time to cut back ornamental grasses and perennials. And of course collect and dispose of the leaves that were missed in the fall and ascended on your yard during the winter.
Completing these tasks is refreshing. It rejuvenates me. With all the debris disposed of and the trees and shrubs pruned my imagination begins to flicker and before my eyes the garden begins to come to life. I envision where I want to move plants add features; I see the holes where I want to add new life. I am warmed by thoughts of the garden basking in the summer sun.