Time for a Tidy in the Spring Garden and Plant Nursery

Nectarines in bloom
An ornamental grape needs some serious pruning to free the mutabilis roses below.
In early spring, I try to finish up any dormant pruning I haven’t gotten to yet, like this ornamental grape which needs some serious pruning to free the mutabilis roses below.

Since the byline for this garden blog is “a chat over the garden fence“, I like to feel like we really are just having a conversation here. So before we move on to tidying the garden, here is what has been happening this week.

On Saturday, we had two friends over for a socially-distanced picnic. It was only about the third visit we’ve had with anyone here in the last year, and it was so wonderful to be together again. Three out of the four of us have had the first vaccine shot. It will probably be April or May before I can get mine, but I just had a mid-decade birthday, so maybe I’ll be bumped up a level.

Sunbubble with flowers
Sunbubble in winter

I was glad for the refurbishing of the Sunbubble I’d just completed, so they could sit in it and be comfy and warm during our outdoor picnic.

Whenever friends are over, I always get excited to take them around the gardens and show them everything that I love so much. My non-gardening friends are probably very patient with me about this. 😉 To them it probably just looks like a rather unkempt place with the occasional pretty bloom. But to me, every plant and square foot holds some memory, some love and care. In fact, I often talk to the garden, to the earth deep below, the sky, the wind, the plants, the bees and crows and fish–all of it is dear to me.

Nectarine blossoms -- exquisite! Worth it whether they fruit or not.
Nectarine blossoms — exquisite! Worth it whether they fruit or not.

As I shared in my last post, the daffodils are in bloom, as are the rosemaries, acacias, quinces and nectarines. The nectarines are so pretty, I would grow them for the blooms alone!

There is often a sunny patch of weather here around February — a false spring if you will — and I always have to restrain myself from seeding the whole summer vegetable garden. Though the soil is getting warmer and buds are breaking, there is usually some cooler weather to follow, with occasional frosts on the full moons of March, April, and even May. (We’re in a low spot in the area, so higher elevations near us may not have this issue).

Spring Tidying Tasks
Acacia trees in bloom -- take your allergy medicine and enjoy!
Acacia trees in bloom — take your allergy medicine before enjoying their sweet scent and bright yellow pompom flowers!

So until it is time for planting the 2021 summer vegetable garden, spring tidying is the garden focus:

  • Finishing any dormant pruning, removing dead overgrowth and tidying perennials
  • Trying to stay on top of the rapidly sprouting weeds
  • Doing any remainder bare root planting
  • And tidying our own plant nursery
The Plant Nursery

Our plant nursery is just a homely little spot filled with propagated shrubs and trees. Some of them propagated themselves, like Japanese maple and buddleia seedlings. Others, like the rosemaries, air-layered themselves — sprouting additional roots where branches contacted earth — and then we removed them from the mother plant and potted them up. Some were purposely propagated, like heirloom roses. And whenever something outgrows its location or for whatever reason needs to be moved, it gets potted up and placed in the plant nursery until ready for transplanting.

Our garden nursery is getting a clearing out. Propagated shrubs have been transplanted.
Our garden nursery is getting a clearing out. Propagated shrubs have been transplanted.

Over the course of the last year, the nursery space filled up and so it is getting a clearing out now and all plants are getting transplanted to somewhere on the property. I always feel that the rainy winter and early spring here in Sonoma County is the best time to plant out shrubs and trees, so they can get settled while the soil is still moist. Our dry hot summers and sandy soil are a harsh environment for a plant to get adjusted to, so I find winter and early spring the best.

Propagated heirloom roses awaiting transplant
Propagated heirloom roses awaiting transplant

So this last week, the Japanese maples got planted out in a new spot that, I hope, will one day be a cool shady walk during hot summer days, and that they will nourish the low-humus soil with their leaves every fall.

I don’t know where I will put the new heirloom roses. Our existing ones are in wine barrel planters that are rotting, and I’m afraid of loosing some to gophers. So these new ones are back-ups. 🙂

There were also some pittosporums, escallonias and buddleias that were placed along empty spots along borders. Those are some of our best evergreen hedge plants here. And the rosemaries are great amongst the vegetable garden beds, where they add some winter interest and design “bones” to the otherwise mostly dormant winter garden. They could, however, use some pruning–another tidying task for this month’s list!

Rosemary adds some winter interest to the vegetable garden and makes for fun bee watching during moments of rest.
Rosemary adds some winter interest to the vegetable garden and makes for fun bee-watching during moments of rest.

What garden tasks are you busy with now? Sending appreciation to my friends, family, fellow bloggers, followers, and Twitter garden pals! Happy gardening!

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5 thoughts on “Time for a Tidy in the Spring Garden and Plant Nursery

  1. I have exactly the same feeling as you about my garden. I think only people who love garens are really interested in seeing someone elses. I love visiting gardens and friends gardens too. Unfortunately, I have very few friends who are interested in gardening. In the summer they do love to eat in our garden and we have several suitable spots according to the season. We keep a propagating area for our cuttings and I try and rehome all our baby plants I would rather give them all away as there is a tendance to stop the diversity in the garden. I have tried to buy some new plants this year as I’ve had the time to think about it. My tasks for the moment are just like yours :). Amelia

    1. Hi Amelia! Always lovely to hear from you, and to have a kindred garden-lover to chat with. I bet the people you share your propagated plants with really appreciate it!! Me too—I got a few new plants this year, mostly to cheer up the winter and the pandemic lockdown feeling. Mostly flowers for the sunbubble: the princess flower, primroses, hardenbergia and a few new geraniums. In a north planter outside my office window, I got some additional hellebores and an azalea. I used to have a daphne in that bed, but it died several years ago. Hope the azalea makes it. I love reading your blog! Thanks for writing.

  2. Should I cut back my lavendar plants in early spring? If so, how far down? I love your photos each blog.

    1. Hi! I believe it is recommended to prune back lavenders in the fall or once their flowers have died back. If I’m not mistaken, this gives their leaves a chance to fill out again before the winter, protecting them from cold. I think you can also do it after the last frost date in the spring if it didn’t get done in the fall. This also probably depends on the type of lavender… like, I’m not sure when the best time is for Spanish lavender. If you let me know what kind you have, I can find out for sure. Ours is a hybrid “Grosso” and we try to prune it in fall. How is your weather there now? Happy Gardening!

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