While winter lingers, little jobs bring some satisfaction

I long ago lost perspective on what a “normal” gardening year looks like in Ozaukee County. It seems like spring is late this year, but looking through my phone’s photo album suggests that it might be pretty average.

I will admit to getting a bit panicked by a potentially late (or maybe just average) spring, not because I’m so desperate for signs of the season, although I’d appreciate them, but because every job that I can’t get done in the garden now is a job that will have less time to get it done later.

It’s not a rush, but I normally have my hydrangea pruning (for panicle and arborescens types such as ‘Annabelle’) finished by this time. It’s a job I enjoy, but only because it’s a good excuse to take advantage of a warm day, which have been in short supply.

Ornamental grasses have also usually been cleaned up now since they are looking truly terrible by this point, having been trampled by repeated snowfalls. Those, too, have not been touched, mostly because they are still partially buried by snow.

I may have been stymied in some of my usual early spring garden chores, but I did find a few jobs to get on with. An immature hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) hedge received an application of organic fertilizer. The trees won’t be using it quite yet, but the organic fertilizer will be there — and well watered in — when they start waking up a bit more.

I also started the process of uncovering the one climbing rose that receives some protection in winter. I opened up the frost blanket I stitch around it a bit to let some light in and help it start acclimating to being more exposed. I’ll take it off fully in about a week, assuming the weather is conducive to such plans.

Fallen leaves that have formed a mat on garden beds need to be broken up. I don’t remove many leaves, but I do lightly rake them to make sure that plants hiding under them have access to water and light. While doing a little bit of raking, I uncovered more winter aconites, ground-hugging yellow flowers that are the true harbingers of spring.

I also started the process of acclimating the potted shrubs I overwinter in the unheated garage by simply leaving the door open for a few hours. This helps get them used to a little more light and wind. It’s safe for them to come out soon, but I like to wait until the chance of snow is mostly gone. And when I do bring them out, I’ll cover them with some shade cloth for a bit. After a lot of light deprivation, the evergreen shrubs need to be eased back into life on the outside.

All of those little jobs don’t add up to much in the grand scheme of spring garden jobs, but there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from getting anything done.

Because it might be awhile before spring shows up. Or it might be about the same time it usually is.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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