After several weeks of warm sunny weather, gardens and woodlands in the Chester area were becoming very dry, and the water levels in many wells and in fish ponds were down significantly, so the last two rainy days have been very welcome. Spring seems to have sprung a little early in our area so perhaps it’s time to review the chores that arrive with this new season.
An Erica (Springwood pink) beginning to open.
Most experienced gardeners will have their own lists but, as a reminder for both seasoned and novice gardeners, the Nature Conservancy has put out a list of 10 ways to get your garden ready for spring. Leading the list is the need to “clear away and compost the dead stalks of perennials that provided seeds and cover for birds and other wildlife over the winter but that may harbour unwanted diseases and bugs.” Of course it’s a moot point as to whether there are any “wanted” diseases, but the task is certainly an important part of preparation for the gardening season.
A second recommendation is that this is a good time to “prune shrubs and small trees to maintain form and vigour.” From experience, most gardeners will agree that it’s easier to see the form of the plant before it is sheathed in leaves and blossoms. Hints on techniques of pruning can be found in many gardening books. (Although the images in this blog happen to show spring-blooming heaths and heathers, that’s only because I don’t seem to have a photo of a pruner in action. )
Calluna vulgaris (Fox Hollow) plants brighten up a Chester garden.
Number 4 in the Nature Conservancy’s list is to “start turning over your compost pile.” This is an excellent suggestion except that the compost pile in your blogger’s yard is still frozen solid. Perhaps this item could be moved farther down the list. For the complete list, and lots of other excellent information related to nurturing nature, check out the organization’s website: http://www.natureconservancy.ca/
Colourful tulips are heralded by many as one of the first signs of spring. Gardeners in rural areas, however, are often discouraged from planting tulips because their gardens are raided by deer. Instead, the rural gardener seeks the early signs of spring in other gifts of nature. The appearance of the first, small, ruby knobs of rhubarb, for example, are a pleasant source of encouragement and a signal that the garden renewal has begun.
The above photo might almost be mistaken for a slide showing a cross-section of tissue in a biology lab, or a desert landscape, but it really is the first sign of rhubarb emerging after a long winter sleep.