Winter’s not quite a distant memory yet, but each arriving songbird reminds us of the spring gardening work to be done. While it’s hard to resist the temptation to get out and start digging and planting on the first warm weekend, there’s still lots to do to in the weeks ahead when the ground is too soggy to work.
First on our list here at Fearrington is a check to see that all of our tools and equipment are ready for the tasks ahead. After sharpening blades on sécateurs, cleaning forks and spades, and making sure gas and battery-powered equipment is in good order, we do an inventory of all supplies needed and place our orders. This is the ideal time to see what is new on the market, and perhaps update to better or more ecologically sound versions of our most-used tools!
We do the bulk of our seed ordering at the first of the year, so early March is the time for us to begin making room in our glasshouse to start the annuals which must be sown indoors. Benches are cleared, seed trays are filled with starting medium, and once the seeds are sown, we know spring is really here!
On days when it’s neither too wet nor too cold to go outside, we like to focus on the tasks of garden cleanup and preparation. Raking up old mulch, pruning back dead foliage, and getting a sense of how our plants have fared through the winter months is both necessary and rewarding at this time. Where we can see bulbs beginning to emerge, we gently clear away obstacles, and in most years, top-dress with a handful or two of Bulb-tone.
Once the spring bulb show gets going, we find it really helpful to spend a few hours walking the gardens and taking notes, as well as photos, of areas where we feel additional bulb plantings would improve the design. When it comes time to order bulbs in the fall – and the gardens have taken on an entirely different look – it always proves to have been time well spent!
For those times when we find it just impossible to wait for drier gardens, our favorite way to hurry spring along at Fearrington is to fill a large container (or two, or three!) with early spring plants found at local nurseries and garden centers. A grouping of small blooming shrubs, colorful annuals, and cheerful bulbs will make an entryway come alive with fragrance and beauty, and reassure us that spring really is just around the corner!
Happy Gardening from the Gardeners at Fearrington!
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