Cleanliness is next to Godliness

A few weeks ago I posted about the trouble with idle hands and how they were inching me over to the dark side.  It sounded funny at the time but the string of bad luck and minor tragedy which followed reassured me that there will be no deals made on this end and I would in fact like to stay on the lighter side.  So to sum it up surgery has been scheduled for some, blood tests every three months for others, stitches have been removed, and the family has a new bunny.  Hopefully garden cleanup will now continue to bring us back into good graces.  It’s about time for both 🙂

yard cleanup perennial beds

The front yard is definitely looking a little wild and wooly now that the snow has melted.  Probably time to get rid of the sled.

Cleanup has been ongoing all week (in between April showers) and this morning the sunshine and leftover morning frost are making the front yard glisten with springtime promise.

front yard garden cleanup

front yard garden cleanup

The view from inside the front door was also in need of some sprucing up.

messy yard spring cleanup

I sometimes think my entire neighborhood is an advertisement for plastic and vinyl.

Cleanup this spring is nearly all power tools.  Everything gets cut down with the hedge trimmer into manageable bits and then the largest bits are raked onto the lawn for mowing up into the bag.  The bag is then emptied onto the beds out back.  The front yard then gets a nice topping off with shredded leaves from last fall’s cleanup.  Not only do the shredded leaves cover up all the twigs and debris I was too lazy to remove, they also frame the first crocus nicely.

spring garden cleanup mulch

Mulched leaves on the beds and the lawn mowed at its lowest setting.  Things look better already.

Work has an annoying way of getting in the way of spring cleanup, but whenever I have a chance it feels great to get out there again.  The birds follow behind looking for worms and the kids rediscover all the messes they can make with the most simple of tools.  Spring mud and mulchpiles are fun but I’m just happy enough to see plants finally growing again in the open air.

hardy cyclamen with leucojum vernum

The pink cyclamen coum look much better this spring even after our insulting amount of cold and snow.  Temperatures were actually lower than last winter but a good amount of leaves and flower buds made it through and at least I have something to set off the spring snowflake (leucojum vernum) flowers this year.

I’ve added an embarrassing amount of snowdrops since last year.  These showed up in the mail one day as a baggie full of washed clean, sprouting bulbs.  I planted them immediately and they are perfect this spring.  In contrast the dry bulbs of the same type which looked perfect upon planting barely sprouted last spring and have now died off completely.

double snowdrop galanthus flore pleno

The double snowdrop (galanthus ‘flore pleno’) hopefully settling in nicely under the apple tree.  FYI -the apple tree is that twig at the back of the photo 🙂

I will bore you with more snowdrops at a later date but for now other spring bulbs.

corydalis George baker

The first corydalis, this one’s “George Baker”, looking good and reminding me I should divide my other overcrowded clumps.

Ok one more snowdrop.

galanthus wonston double

Galanthus ‘Wonston Double’.  I have to keep reminding myself I don’t like doubles.

This little bulb who’s name I will never be able to spell without looking up (scilla mischtschenkoana) is one of those unassuming things which you never NEED but you should always have.  This one’s been with me for a while going all the way back to a single stray bulb which must have been overlooked or abandoned by squirrels after all its brothers and sisters had been planted.  Being the daring teen who I was and feeling a little dangerous, I pocketed the bulb and brought it home.  Somehow it survived being unplanted all winter and within a few weeks even put out the first of many pale, icy blue flowers.  It has never reseeded (likely because they’re all the clone descendants of one single bulb) but it’s multiplied and followed me from garden to garden over the decades.  hmmmm.  I should go back to that park some day and see how the original planting has made out.

Scilla mischtschenkoana

Scilla mischtschenkoana.

The hellebores are starting as well.  This one is right up against the porch foundation and lives the good life.

white ashwood hybrid hellebore

I bought this one as a white Ashwood seedling from Santa Rosa Gardens.  I bought this one as a started plant, but deep down inside I covet seeds from the Ashwood line.  They’re either crazy expensive or I just can’t find them here in the states.

A few of the other hellebores are also coming along.  Drought last summer has really taken a bite out of this year’s show but the real killer was my transplanting several and then not really bothering to give them any aftercare.  A sprinkler would have done wonders in August, but you can’t dwell on these things in April.

double pink hellebore from seed

A nice double pink hellebore from Elizabethtown seed.  I’m glad I had the chance to buy seed from them before they closed retail sales…. but I’m still missing all the cool seedlings coming along each spring.

Last spring’s late blasts of arctic weather didn’t please the hellebores at all but this year the more settled pattern has done them well.  I finally get to see a nice clean bloom on my yellow.

yellow hellebore from seed

This one, also from Elizabethtown seed, looks buttery enough for me to think ‘yummy!’  I’ve been wanting a yellow like this for years.  Wish me luck it clumps up and continues to do well 🙂

The warmer temperatures and singing birds have me completely optimistic and I’m starting to rake back the winter mulch from around my late fall conifer splurge from Conifer Kingdom.  They all look great and I’m hoping for healthy new growth in a few weeks.  Just think… if my blue spruce (p. pungens ‘Walnut Glen’) doubles in size this year it may break the four inch mark!

late planting conifer winter protection

A late planting of conifers still snuggled in under a thick winter mulch of shredded leaves.  Time to start peeling it back.

So spring is finally here.  The sun is shining this morning and I’m buying pansies today.  The only snow left are snowdrops and since I paid a visit to the Temple nursery on Saturday you’re still going to have to sit through that, but fortunately the pictures aren’t all that great so you’ll be spared much of the repeating white and green.  Enjoy!

32 comments on “Cleanliness is next to Godliness

  1. Wow! Your garden is so far ahead of mine — I’m green (no pun intended) with envy! Love that scilla, and because its’ unprounceable name does fall into the ‘Molly the Witch’ category, I hereby propose that it be called “Silly Mitch” for short – how’s that? 😉 About those double snowdrops (which I had in the past) when I planted then near the singles I always thought they looked like Scarlett O’Hara next to Coco Chanel: not bad but what a contrast! Congrats on the bunny and good thoughts coming your way for the upcoming surgery. Life does hand us “stuff”, doesn’t it??

    • bittster says:

      I love ‘Silly Mitch’. I’ll be using that from now on! It will be so much easier than the MItchmumblemumblemumble which I’ve been using so far….
      The double snowdrops really don’t compare to the singles in the grace department. They last longer and can be showier, but you’re right in that they’re just trying too hard or something!
      Thanks for the good thoughts 🙂

  2. Pauline says:

    It’s good to see that spring has finally arrived in your garden, you have had to wait a long time for it. Love your little scilla, such a lovely pale blue, I can see it becoming very popular! Sorry to hear about your surgery, that’s not good for any gardener, hope you mend soon.

    • bittster says:

      Argh! Temperatures climbed to 75F (24C) this afternoon and the little scillas are practically over. Spring is arriving with a vengeance, but I’m happy to see it in any form!
      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. pbmgarden says:

    You’ve made good progress in your cleanup.Glad to see spring at your door. Best healing wishes!

  4. rusty duck says:

    The yellow hellebore is a beauty indeed, best of luck with that. It is amazing how resilient plants are, even after the harshest winter weather.

    • bittster says:

      I was admiring the yellow hellebore again today, I’m so happy to have it this spring! Amazing how it almost rises from the ashes of freezer burned foliage and nipped buds.

  5. Annette says:

    Love your cyclamen and corydalis (very sweet indeed) but I’m a bit at a loss, Frank, and a bit worried too as I don’t know what to make of your medical remarks…hope it’s not too serious, keep your chin up 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I think it’s going to be ok, and thanks for your concern. Both myself and my better half have both had scares this month and when we lost our little Bunbun it didn’t help. Chin up like you said!

  6. Amy Olmsted says:

    It’s all looking so absolutely wonderful!! I’m especially loving your cyclamen…and what?? No Primroses??
    Would you ever consider doing any trades? I’m looking for more Corydalis and since yours are needing dividing…….I’ve got some neat Arisaema bulbs, small ones but they will grow!

    • bittster says:

      I haven’t made a good primula match yet, they all leave me just when I thought we were getting along so well! Even sibthorpii wanted to see other gardeners 🙂
      Have I considered trading!? I saw a post of yours with a few bellarinas which I’ve been craving and pining for. My yellow one is one of only three primulas which haven’t completely died on me so I’ve been anxiously waiting until I could try another color. I thought for sure there would be nothing here you’d want so I bit my tounge! I’ll message you on FB 🙂

  7. Well, look at you, with hellebores and corydalis, and scilla, oh my! I have buds on my hellebore, and a few tiny crocuses blooming, and that’s about it. BUT, so much growth coming along, now! And just a tiny bit of snow left on the edges of the lawn. Things are looking up! You’ll have to steer me in the right direction for snowdrops!

    • bittster says:

      You are in the Highlands of course, so things will be much later than us valley people 😉
      Next spring we’ll talk snowdrops. Maybe I’ll have a spare or two (but I confess I’m very greedy with them so you’ll have to practically pry them out of my hands)
      Isn’t the change in the past few days amazing? I all of a sudden feel behind in everything!

  8. mattb325 says:

    The yard is looking amazing! The leaf mulch is such a good soil conditioner. I have only one established deciduous tree in my yard (the rest are conifers and eucalypts) so I have been furiously planting to be able to get the benefits of humus-rich soil 🙂 The snowdrops and cyclamen are just wonderful…I really like how the front bed takes up the nature/hell strip, it makes the yard look so much larger!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Matt. I’m also desperate for every bit of compost I can get. I turn a blind eye to every mildewed leaf and even throw the practically indestructible evergreen clippings into the pile…. I must use it all and feed the humus! lol
      I hate getting out of a car when the street plantings are wet and right at my side, but I would never give up those extra few feet of garden!

  9. I was smiling when you said the birds follow along. They do that here too as I uncover worms. Poor worms… Clean up is almost finished here too, but I don’t use any power tools. I can’t start the gas powered ones that is why. I don’t mind clean up though, but when plants start growing, then I am done pampering the garden. They need to live happy without me then. Nothing in bloom here yet even though I have many plants that should be blooming by now. Still not warm enough for them I guess.

    • bittster says:

      I hope the warmth came your way this weekend, it sure has been enjoyable here!
      Nearly all my power tools are electric. I also don’t have the knack for gas engines and I hate the extra noise and smell of exhaust. Plus electric can go on and off every few minutes and not be a hassle to restart and as long as you get used to the cord even the mower is no problem. Just don’t count on them to give you any street credit, my electric mower and all those flowers really crushes my ‘manly’ rep around here 🙂

  10. Looks so nice! I really need to look into more spring bulbs. The squirrels seem to love my crocus. Obviously, you don’t have trouble with them eating the snowdrops. They are very pretty!

    • bittster says:

      My crocus have been lucky this year, they lasted about five days before the rabbits mowed them down completely. I think hawks keep the squirrels off the lawn and in the trees where they belong 🙂

  11. Oh, that butter-yellow hellebore is luscious! And I like how you use power tools for garden clean. Will have to keep that in mind. Sorry to hear about the surgery, stitches etc. including the bunny. As long as it’s the only bunny, I guess it’s okay.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Kathy. Last year I nearly burnt out on the cleanup…. and by burnt out I mean there was actually one day when I thought it was a lot of work. Most of the time I just enjoy being out there and seeing everything cleaned up and coming back to life.
      The mower is my best friend during cleanup, I’ve been known to just run over perennial beds to be done with it!

  12. Cathy says:

    Sounds like you’ve all had a bit of a rough time recently! Hope all the injuries heal quickly. Your spring is coming on in leaps and bounds and you’ll have caught us up soon. My corydalis looks very much like yours, but I always thought mine was Beth Evans so must check. I may have both in fact. I’m waiting (im)patiently for my yellow Corydalis cheilanthifolia to open. The yellow hellebore is gorgeous… I have really fallen for it. Hope it trebles or even quadruples in size for next spring! 😉

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Cathy. Yes spring has really exploded upon us now and the snowdrops are quickly fading while the first daffodils open. I get anxious when it all flies by so fast, I want this time of year to last forever!
      I have ‘Beth Evans’ as well as ‘George Baker’ and it’s only when I really look closely that can I tell them apart. The ones I have are both excellent, but I just sometimes wonder if they’re correctly labeled.

  13. Alain says:

    I am jealous of your cyclamens coum mine have never done that well. Perhaps I should put them in a sunnier spot, yours seem to be in an open area. Good luck with you health problems.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Alain.
      The cyclamen seem happiest in this spot under a weeping cherry. It’s a location too miserable for most other plants but the cyclamen grow and flower at a time of year when the cherry actually lets a little moisture and sunlight reach the ground.

  14. love your spring flowers! I have snow drops too, i think i would like to plant a mass planting of them somewhere. would like to see what you do with yours. Very lovely. Crocus i put in my lawn. I like them too. Spring = happy and you have done a lot of work!

    • bittster says:

      I’d like to fill a woodland with snowdrops, but I have neither the wood nor land so that might be a challenge 🙂
      Spring should be a great time over at your end too. Seems like you tackled a couple sore spots last fall and should be in good shape… even though there are always those surprises that come up!

  15. I think the robins wait for me to get out my trowel so they’ll have an easy dinner. Try laying soaker hoses to make watering easier. It’s a life saver for me. I have a soaker hose super highway or I wouldn’t have much of a garden. I always think of cyclamen as a grocery store plant because I always see them for sale there. They look much better in your garden!

    • bittster says:

      You’re right, I should try soaker hoses again. Last time I tried they ended up plugging and going all uneven along their length so I made the mature decision to quit watering altogether! I can’t exactly say it’s working out…

  16. Glad you are able to ‘keep it light’ amidst all your troubles, Frank. Your spring clean up is coming along nicely — ahead of mine. Your blooms are ahead of mine, too, but the disgustingly long winter is finally over. Hurray! P. x

    • bittster says:

      Oh yes, I barely remember winter even though it was only a week or two ago that the last snow melted around here! I may have finished the main garden cleanup today. There’s more if course and I’m behind in dividing and transplanting but hopefully not too much. Viva la spring!

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