Early April tasks

In my zone 6B garden, things are now starting to wake up and gaining momentum each day.

Cleaning Up
If you haven’t done spring clean up, now is a good time to tackle that job. In our garden, I spent yesterday trying to reclaim the last of the once-hidden border area at the street side. It’s probably 10 x 10 and is at the edge between the woods and the front bed. It’s the very last of the overgrown area in front of the maple that I mentioned. The privet was especially hidden there. The cleanup will take a couple more days, but I pulled a sizable amount of Japanese honeysuckle and cleared entangled leaves that have fallen over many years from the towering oak nearby. Extricating the last of the honeysuckle from the privet itself will be a test of patience, but hopefully worth it. They should get enough light after having cleared some other weedy invasive shrubs in front of them last fall. Photos to follow — it’s nothing to look at right now.

Starting Seeds
It’s not too late to plant seeds indoors under a grow light, and start a second round of warmer weather plants. The peas I planted a few weeks ago are leading the pack. The zinnias are zipping along — my nod to a deer-resistant cutting area of the far West border. The verbena bonariensis (purpletop vervain) seedlings have taken a while, but there are now several very tiny seedlings. They should add some interesting structural contrast threaded through the front border, support butterflies, and are a water-wise choice. I’ve decided to forgo a community garden plot for the first time in some 15 years to more fully focus on our home landscape and garden, as well as volunteer activities where I should be devoting more of my free time. So without that garden plot for vegetables, I’m finalizing how to plant out the lettuce, chard, spinach and peas without Mr. Groundhog — who I spotted yesterday — noshing on them. Let’s try pots in a protected area!

Building and Installing Structures
Now’s also a good time to add any structures you’ve been planning. I’m encouraged to see the two climbing roses we planted at the front of the house leafing out already, but they will soon outgrow the horizontal wires M. installed last year to help train them up the house. So I’ll be asking him for some help putting up a few more.

For fall interest, I’m considering planting clematis virginiana (virgin’s bower) at our barn, a native clematis and not to be mistaken with clematis ternifolia (sweet autumn clematis), which is an invasive but very popular fall-blooming variety. They will need a similar support on the barn.

Preparing Beds and Planting Areas
The last task ahead of me today is making sure there are cleared areas for the bare root plants I ordered. These include native amelanchier, or serviceberry, (the same plant as today’s cover photo) and a few American hazelnut (corylus Americana) for the borders. I’m tempted to add a few more witch hazel, too. There’s just something about the fact that it has interest through multiple seasons, can live under black walnuts, and offers a native variety that fits well in our landscape.

Enjoying the Ride
It gives me great joy to see the early daffodils cheerily greeting us in the morning and again when we come home at night. Nearly every day offers something new to observe and enjoy. With all there is to do, there’s also much to see if you look carefully and take a few moments.

Hopefully spring will stay a while.