garden log : cleaning up for winter

The lavender bush, blooming in autumn.

The lavender bush, newly planted in spring.

This weekend we engaged in a superhuman final push to get the yard cleaned up for the winter. ‘Cleaned up’ is, of course, a relative term. We did not, as I’d hoped, prepare any beds for the transfer of rose bushes in the spring. Nor did we plant anything, move any bulbs, or cut the ivy back off of our neighbor’s trees. We didn’t even mow the lawn one last time before the cold rain of November descended for real (oops).

Even without meeting any of those goals, we accomplished a lot in the yard this year. Much of that work took place in the spring and early summer: digging up the liriope, relocating plants that were being suffocated, planting new azaleas in the front, putting in a new bed in the back, cutting back the ivy, and pruning the quince trees. Nonetheless, we pushed on and were able to find more to do. We dug up (even) more liriope, filling about three contractor bags with the stuff. I cut back the holly trees, to allow us to walk under them and to give the recovering crape myrtle (ours) and magnolia (our neighbor’s) some breathing room. We pulled oodles of dead vines down from the back trees and cut the mulberry back from the garage. I raked all the leaves, and we transferred them via the tarp method to the back beds where the great multi-year weed-smothering process continues. I was extremely glad to see that a decent layer of leaves remained from last year in many places, such that the leaves from our own yard should be sufficient for this year’s efforts. The tarp method, in contrast to last year’s wheelbarrow method, also went quickly and allowed us to move larger piles of leaves at once.

All in all, it was a satisfying clean up and I’m pleased with how our yard is looking. It’s conceivable that what remains to be done — ivy, liriope, and sapling stump removal — can be accomplished in the spring without much effort. Okay, with a lot of effort, but in plenty of time to allow me to actually plant things throughout the summer. Imagine: gardening that involves futzing around moving things here and there rather than mass killing.

garden log : cleaning up for winter

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