Spring is that much-anticipated season when life in the garden comes alive with supreme vigor and vitality. I can vividly remember as a young adult, before I had my own garden, excitement would fill my soul just taking a drive down the freeway on any March day in Florida. The sight of bright green leaves flushing out en masse on the limbs of roadside tree clusters signaled a certain assurance ~~ much like the rising or setting of the sun. Still, to this day, I look forward to that very sign of life which in the simplest way gives me a solid sense of peace. With all the wonder and awe of this glorious season comes inspiration. Revitalization to conquer the garden. Even the will to accomplish some of those much anticipated projects visualized and dreamed up in our minds. Personally, I admit that I count on the mid-winter days in January and February to tackle some of my biggest design ideas. (All the grass you see in the above photo has been removed. More on this project to come later.) This year winter fooled me! The weather (consequently the soil) warmed up very quickly at the start of February. Which of course signaled ornamentals to begin their spring growth. Then the gardener guessing-game began. Will we get another cold snap? Should I cut back dead growth now? Should I wait? How long do I wait? 'Officially' we're advised to wait until the last frost date to prune back damaged limbs on ornamentals and woody shrubs. For my Central Florida garden that date is February 25. Last year was way out-of-the-ordinary with record-setting-consistently-cold temps into March. As my Florida cohorts know well~~ it created a bit of shyness this year for NOT jumping the gun on spring pruning. SO! if you live in Florida and you haven't already done it~~ it is past time (but not too late) to assess your garden and make determinations about what needs to stay and what needs to go. Pruning removes the old, lifeless decay or damage and encourages new growth. All you need to know about pruning is available in this document link. Turns out this year it would have been safe to cut everything back the second week of February. And to be truthful I did just that on a few perennials. The pentas and grasses that I knew would return or I wouldn't mind replacing were sheared very early. Photo from February... no my azaleas do NOT look like this now. Be sure to wait until your azaleas have finished their flowering before pruning ~~ but do it before July. You won't want to remove next year's flowers. Here's a link for detailed instructions. This is a do as I say not do as I do moment. I've been so busy with new projects there are two significant plants I have procrastinated in cutting back. It's appauling I know. But just to confirm I'm just as human as the next gardener...you should know the pagoda flowers are still standing sticks and dripping dried berries. Not a visual you expect to see in spring. And the goldenrod (not shown) that are taking over my wildflower garden are littered with tall brown spikes of dead flowers. I'll get to it ... maybe this week... but late pruning won't deter the growth of either plant. Too bad. It is just an ugly sight for now. Oh, let's get back to the bright greens of spring that speak of all things new and fresh. I've been amazed at the rapid growth throughout the garden this season. Not only do we need to cut back and clean up from winter but another good thing to do this time of year is refurbish your beds with mulch. Always add mulch to newly planted materials after water has been thoroughly applied. While you're at it refresh the rest of your beds making sure to apply a maximum of 2-3 inches of a good, organic mulch. Be sure not to cover the root ball of each plant with mulch as you want to leave it exposed for air and water. Consider creating a manageable plan for Integrated Pest Management and feeding schedules for your garden. Fertilizer can be applied to lawns and shrubs in spring. Here's a guide for Florida lawn fertilization. One of the most vital pieces of information is how to properly mow your lawn. Just about every flowering perennial shrub and tree is putting out buds and flowers early this year. No question I'm enthralled with everything green! But flowers are also a thrill.
I'll stop chatting away and wish you a very happy spring. You are always welcome to click on any photo which will take you to the web album and an appropriate caption. (You'll have to click the back button to return here). Stay inspired ... spring will not last long enough. Here's to all the strength and health you need to get every job accomplished. Meems ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ** This was not meant to be a comprehensive outline of everything to be done in the spring garden. Just the VERY basics in a VERY general way.