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Rushing the season

Last week this time it was starting to snow. And snow. And snow. Today, the second day in a row of 60°F temperatures, the snow is almost gone. Yesterday when I went out to retrieve the lid to the compost pile—it had blown off in the storm—it was so muddy and slippery that I couldn't survey the back yard without slipping. Today was another story.

I had lunch with a friend and ran some errands afterwards (yet another garden center doesn't have onion sets in yet). When I got home, I wanted to do nothing more than take a nice long walk. But I took a look at the yard and decided that I could start cleaning up.

Looking at my LJ records, which serve in some measure as a gardening journal, I see that my first cleanup of the year last year was some two weeks later. One result of deferring the cleanup was that my crocuses weren't happy. There were enough leaves over them that they didn't thrive, and, when I finally raked away the leaves, those crocuses that came up were bruised. And so, I didn't have the carpet of purple crocuses that I had envisioned. Thus, one of my first priorities was to rake out the area where the most crocuses were planted. I think my timing was OK. There are a few crocus leaves peeping up, but no blossoms to be bruised.

The tulips on the side of the house have been peeping up for a while. In the winter, that area gets a lot of sun, and the wind patterns were such that there wasn't a lot of snow drifting there. The daffodils? I'm kind of letting them fend for themselves. The main daffodil area is mixed in with the pachysandra in front of the house. There are still leaves to pull out of those beds, but they'll wait. I contented myself with cutting back the snapdragons that I hadn't gotten to in the winter. The snapdragons aren't supposed to be perennial in this growing zone, but, planted right next to the house, they do seem to come back. My mother has tried to convince me that they must just be reseeding themselves. That may be. But they also have live stems in March, so I rather doubt it.

I also picked up a bunch of sticks and such like from the front yard and cut back dead flowers from the border to the front walk. The Dusty Millers still look OK—the nice man at the garden center tells me it's hard to kill them—so I left them, and will leave them until there is new growth. Once I cut back the dead stuff from the sedum, I saw some nice new growth. But not much of anything else.

It's still too wet to do much with the large flower bed and with the patch of irises by the stairs to the deck. And I'm going to try not to think about the area in the corner that needs major fertilizing for anything to grow. I put in a flat of vinca there my first year in the house, and there are maybe 5 plants left alive out of a flat of 40 or so plants. And we won't even talk about the poor excuse for a mountain laurel that's too stubborn to either die or bloom. (I don't get weeds either in this area.)

It was nice to get out and work in the yard—a lot nicer than the snow shoveling that was my exercise at the beginning of last week. But I'm still annoyed that I can't get onion sets to plant on the deck. Agway says they'll have them in on Wednesday. I'm tempted to give them a call to check and then take off from work early to grab some. After all, it will still be light when I get home, and I can plant some before dinner.