Saturday, March 12, 2011

Actually Out There

The snow is about gone, what a relief. It died a sort of slow death by rain this week, gradually shrinking and getting dirtier and then finally the full melt. So I was able to get a good close look at the front garden.

Of course it is much too early to rake the leaves out of the beds. They add protection, especially necessary now that the snow blanket is gone. Anyway, I never like to rake too many of them out. I'd rather use the trowel to dig them into the soil a bit. It is on the spot composting. I started to use that method many years ago out of laziness. Instead of fully raking the garden in spring, I'd leave some leaves behind. Then when I was planting, of course they got turned into the ground. They condition the soil, which improves the texture, and add nutrients. On top of the soil, they act as mulch. The mulch I purchase goes much further, if it is on top of a layer of leaves. And it all decomposes, making the soil better and better, every year. I have been gardening in this spot for 24 years, and the soil has gone from having the texture of cheap cement to being reasonably black and friable. Laziness doesn't usually work out so well.

But there were many things I could do in the garden. There were dead stalks to cut down, as I leave many in place to feed the birds. There were dead annuals which succumbed very late in the season, I added them to the pile in the driveway. I bolstered up a butterfly bush that had heaved out of the ground. A bucket of soil was needed to get it straight with all roots protected again. Then I got the trimmers to clean it up a bit, but was distracted by the slimy stems of the left over herbs.

By the time I got rid of all the dead stuff in the pile, my Chihuahua, Niles, was shivering. Niles is not much for the cold. Snow storms with him are challenging. I brought him inside, and then got to work on some of my big finds, succulents in odd spots I had forgotten about. I brought them in and potted them up, succulents are going to be big in my garden this year. I have a sunny room that is slowly filling up with them. Rescued from the cold they're really taking off. To them, it is May.

Well, I'm off to trim the butterfly bush.  And before I know it, my garden will look more like this.

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