May 11, 2011

How to clean up flower beds after winter

This tiny little plant, "pulsatilla" blooms in early spring, which at my home in Alaska means May. Its common name is pasque flower, fittingly because Pasque refers to Easter, which was two weeks ago. This year it bloomed May 6th, the anniversary of my grandmother's birth.

I'm working on settling on a perspective. As always, it is a daughter who nudges me into thought and writing. She tells me to start looking in places I've never looked before. Take roads I've never taken. Clean out the old to bring in the new, she says. I'm doing it, I say. But it is a slow process. These days of mine are spent out in our 3 acres: clearing a space for a NEW vegetable garden. Tossing and recycling OLD garden pots and tools. Discovering long-neglected raspberries and removing the DEAD cane, bringing them back to LIFE. Relocating and refurbishing the abandoned playhouse until it shines and welcomes: Come have fun!

Getting back to my first little bloom of the season...dead-looking plants in my garden are beginning to shoot out green buds, just as this little one shot up to greet the sun. I'm actively using my daughter's advice and taking the steps to direct my VIEW to worthwhile, enriching things.

#1 Clean up my act.
Clean up the garden bed. Remove weeds that may already have emerged, throw out any rocks seen lying around (especially those unwanted that were moved there by errant snow-plowing), clean up debris, and clip all dead growth from plants. Note to self: remember that it is vital to remove dead growth as it can harbor diseases and insects that may affect the new, green growth emerging.

#2 Add the good stuff.
Take the opportunity to add compost. I bought a new kitchen compost pot to assist in this endeavor. Top dress my perennials, and turn soil gently so as to not damage the roots. Compost helps add nutrients and helps to give the soil a good structure. (Compost - composition, get it?) The compost itself is beneficial and a great amendment.

#3 Indulge and go shopping.
This is the time to add the new flowers. Each plant has its own requirements, and I'm getting to know them. Last year’s survivors are coming along slowly, but I'm giving them some companions. The new companions will give a little show while last year’s plants come back to full force.

#4 Mulch.
Adding landscape mulch to beds brings a clean look, helps retain moisture in the ground, add nutrients over time, and controls weeds. I'm trying to go organic, and stay away from synthetic mulches, as they do not offer much nutritional benefit. Also, I'm careful not to suffocate new growth under the mulch, as new growth needs breathing room. After this, it should look like winter was never here.

It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn't a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing. ~Eleanor Perényi, Green Thoughts, 1981


  1. Beautiful flower. You have been working hard in the garden and it's going show. Can't wait to see the yard for myself!

  2. Love the comparison on the garden and our lives...It is spring and the growth and beauty is just beginning. The old is gone, the new has come!

    Love you sis!

  3. Spring is here and it's time to do some house cleaning...or garden cleaning! I love your comparison to the garden and our lives. The old is gone, the new has come! New growth, new plants, new perspectives! Remember, too, that the "compost" in our lives will create beautiful results when we allow it to season and grow us.

    Love you sis! Wish I could see your garden this year! Post pics! Post pics!

  4. My comment got deleted, so I'll say again that this was a great post! You've worked hard in the garden this year and it will pay off. Just like when we work hard in the garden of our own lives. :-) Love you mom!