Isn't it funny how one day of sunny weather and mild temps makes you feel like winter is over? A week ago we had snow, and then boom, three days later it felt like spring. On Saturday everyone was outside in their yards, working or playing. Our neighborhood has lots of kids, and they were outside all weekend long, playing street hockey in the cul-de-sac. Anyway, I got started on garden cleanup, and I decided I need to do more of that in the fall. There's just too much to do to leave it all until the spring. I felt kind of overwhelmed looking at everything I had to do. So on Saturday I started in the backyard garden, cutting back all the old and matted leaves of the hellebores--what a difference that makes. The flowers really stand out better and the increased sunlight will produce more blooms.
Once I finished with the hellebores, I was into it, and so I started raking leaves and debris from the beds. My usual routine is to clean out the beds, then go over it with a hoe and scrape away any weeds and break up the soil around the existing plants, then sprinkle bone meal around all the existing perennials. I cut back all the perennials, and even found my snapdragons had survived the winter. They are pretty hardy and often survive a mild winter. Walt cut back hard the smoke tree and the buddleias (butterfly bushes). I should have taken a picture of all the garden debris out on the curb waiting for the recycling pickup!
Lots of the perennials are showing signs of growth, heucheras, perennial geraniums, and sedums, especially after cutting back all the old leaves and stems. It's always fun to see those bright new leaves!
And one of my tree peonies in the backyard already has several big fat buds. I think it's because it grows in a more sheltered space, as my big tree peony in the front yard isn't showing any new growth yet. Looking through my garden journal, I can tell we are about 10 days behind last year. In 2012 I was doing this clean up on the first of March, and had even cut back my hellebores on a sunny day on February 23.