The Winter / Spring Balance

This time of year can be tough for gardeners. For my part, I appreciate the break from the high level of activity dealing with plants because it gives me a chance to get other bits of life under control. But that doesn't mean I don't get out. I am a bit of a princess in terms of personal comfort, but if it's above 45 degrees and the wind isn't howling, I find projects that are satisfying and that enhance my yard. LH Gardens takes a 2 month break in the winter, but Leslie Harris can 'garden' at her house at her leisure on clement winter days. 

Fall is busy for me, and I don't have time to do more than quickly blow or push our many leaves out of the way of the not yet dormant grass and the hardscape. It's in winter when I deal with my leaves.  Leaves can be nature's mulch, especially for acid loving plants and shrubs. My method is to rake the leaves off of the garden beds, mow them (I have a collection bag on my battery powered mower), and put them right back on the bed. Have a look at the texture.

Leaf mulch  is NOT the beautiful dark smoother look of hardwood mulch, which is what my clients get. But I am so busy in spring that I don't notice that my garden isn't looking primo, and all spring long those leaves break down and add good things to the soil. The layer is almost gone in June, and that's when my clients are all set for summer, and I have time to mulch at my house. 

Here's Sydney Eddison, author of "Gardening for a Lifetime", with a short video on the topic. 

A second ongoing activity is collecting kindling. Every time a wind blows, a harvest of ready to burn wood descends from our oaks and tulip poplars. They become dried arrangements until brought in-- I just stuff them in any pot, and then collect them for a fire. 

And of course a big activity is poking around to see what is coming up! Hellebores (I have inherited many from friends and neighbors, and am sadly ignorant as to what cultivars they are, but they don't make me any less happy to see them), crocuses, the tips of bulb foliage, the swollen buds of Edgeworthia, (check that shrub out on Dave's Garden. Such a cool plant.)-- sometimes the anticipation is as good as the event.

So keep the balance.