Spring Cleaning

I will speak quietly because I don’t want to tempt fate (this time last year we were knee-deep in snow) but I think spring may have sprung.

I found myself yesterday at 9am fully kitted out in wellies and gardening gloves, wrestling with tools in the greenhouse, ready for action!

The first full day of gardening is glorious. I didn’t know it was going to be a full day of gardening. I though I would have a little potter, to see what was doing, and before I knew it, I was edging the lawn, pulling out weeds, moving plants around…oh, it was heavenly!

This is how it started. I took a little wander along my bright border. It is looking like this:

Bright border at the end of February

Not very bright yet, I know, but give it time. At the moment, it is mainly primroses and pulmonaria, with the odd patch of crocuses, unfurling tulips and hyacinths, and sprigs of hemerocallis.

Primroses, tulip foliage and hemerocallis foliage in the bright border.

Here’s a primrose, Primula vulgaris:

Primula vulgaris (common primrose) with Heleborus x hybridus behind.

You might just be able to spot a dark hellebore in the background. I said last week in The Inner Circle that I only had one hellebore. It turns out I don’t. I thought that this one had been swallowed by the thuggish euphorbia I had to eject from the bright border last autumn. My dark hellebore is now on the road to recovery!

Heleborus x hybridus: a dark strain.

I love the dark tones of this hellebore, both in its foliage and flower.

Heleborus x hybridus

If I tip it up, you can see its inner beauty. The shadows of the squiggly anthers give me particular delight.

Heleborus x hybridus: a dark strain.

But I can’t stand about flower-gazing for long! There is work to be done!

Edging the lawn is not my favourite garden job. I don’t like anything that involves keeping to a straight line. I am a wobbly sort of gardener.

I could have got out some pegs and a line to keep this edge straight, but where is the fun in that?

I take off about an inch of lawn, because the grass is constantly snuggling in closer to the border and would take over, if given half a chance.

Edging the border now will make my life easier later on. Having a nice deep cliff-edge will mean that I can just skip along with the edging shears a couple of times in the summer. If you don’t have a nice deep cliff-edge, this is tedious and boring, as you’re constantly having to angle your shears, and you miss sprigs of grass.

Edging the border inevitably leads to a bit of weeding. As you lift the turf you have sliced through, you find sneaky little dandelions crouching in and amongst the tufts of grass you are removing. Edging the border also leads to picking up fallen leaves, and perhaps tidying last year’s growth from perennials.

Pulling the dead growth from hardy geraniums is one of those delicious sensory pleasures. The dead stems come away easily, with a little ‘pop pop pop’, revealing a lovely pink nest of new growth coming through.

New foliage of Geranium ‘Brookside’

This is death-trap corner. In June it is a wonderland of foxgloves. But now, at the end of February, it is a pit for grass, moss and nettles to infest. This is the heaviest clay in my garden. I grow foxgloves in it because they self-seed readily, and will eventually fill in the gaps so that it is more difficult for weeds to squeeze in.

You can feel the energy of plants right now. They are bursting with the desire to just grow. At the centre of this foxglove there is a powerhouse of foliage and flower buds. It can’t wait to unleash its energy.

I love weeding. It allows me to get down close to the tiny little wonders that are going on at ankle level. Like these blue hyacinths, just starting to colour up.

I get to be amongst the buzzing of bumblebees and the birdsong. Today there was the regular percussion of a woodpecker joining in. This is one of my favourite sounds in spring time.

The queen of the bright border right now is Pulmonaria.

Pulmonaria (Lungwort)

Only a week ago, the whole clump looked like this closed bud. It looks like the outbreak of something nasty.

Pulmonaria (Lungwort) bud

The buds start to open. The plant is transformed! It is prettiness itself. The individual flowers are pink at first, but lighten to violet-blue. It has gone from ‘ew’ to ‘ah’.

Pulmonaria (Lungwort)

This is another spurge, Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’.  In a few weeks, this will have lime-green inflorescences held above the beetroot foliage.

Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ in late February.

There are signs that this too is starting to spread: it has popped up near a few of its neighbours. I will keep a close eye.

This is another reason to get down to it now: you can see what’s coming through. What you need to keep an eye on, what is coming next. It will happen so quickly over the next month. The garden is unfurling, unleashing its incredible energy.

It was a joy to be in the garden all day. I had to keep popping indoors for refreshment, being unused to constant activity. I eat like a horse when I am gardening.

I am energised. I am alive. Spring has sprung.

‘The Mindful Gardener’ can’t wait to share the joys of spring. If you would like to receive an email notification when I publish a post, you can click on the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of this page. Your email address is stored securely and you will not receive any spam.

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. Chloris says:

    Wonderful isn’t it? Non -gardeners miss so much, when they don’t get what a joy this early season weeding and tidying is, specially when it is so warm and lovely out there. I am going to post your hellebore babies today, sorry it has taken so long, I have found it difficult to drag myself out of the garden all week.

    1. Thank you so much, Chloris, I can’t wait!

  2. Emma Cownie says:

    That’s the problem with gardens, you end up gardening! I love looking at your garden, though. That Heleborus x hybridus is a delicious colour!

    1. Jo Shafer says:

      Ali’s hellebores look like my magnolia soulangeana tree blossoms and, I’m sure, would be a lovely ground cover underneath.

      1. Oh yes, that would be a lovely combination. I love magnolia.

  3. Christina says:

    Ah! That wonderful moment (day) when you can really believe that spring is here. Our beast this year was here all weekend with icy winds but today it is glorious.

    1. Am glad you have been enjoying the sunshine too!

  4. Angela says:

    Beautiful little glimmers of hope. 🙂

  5. bcparkison says:

    You are off to a good start. Me? Everything I dug and pulled out last fall trying to get my beds back into some order have now come back . Weeds alive.It is kinda disheartening.( is that a word)

    1. Some weeds take a few goes. Keep at it! 🙂

  6. Ann Mackay says:

    Your hellebore is a delicious colour. I’m happy to see that it survived – yay for robust little hellebores! 🙂 But shhh…don’t tempt fate – I really want spring to stay!! (I’m digging a pond and this weather is making it a much nicer job.)

    1. Oh wow! That sounds like an exciting project!

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        I hope so, Ali, but I have a lot to do yet!

  7. Island Time says:

    Lovely post, lovely to be out in the garden again. Here we have a late winter, a late spring I fear. Ground frozen solid, snow forecast again for tonight. It’s a little unusual, and I’m feeling impatient. Still, a wider window of opportunity to get the pruning finished; glorious sunshine drew me out with the shears yesterday. Will have to be content a bit longer with mulling over the seed catalogues and living vicariously through posts like yours….thank you!

    1. Glad you got some sunshine! Hope you get a thaw soon.

  8. Jo Shafer says:

    I’ll try not to be jealous, Ali. Spring may arrive quite late here as we keep getting smothered in snow showers, adding to the accumulations of 12-15 inches. Yes, it does melt a little, then along comes another snow shower, if not a storm!

    I’m with you about those sharp, cliff edges along my borders. And weeding. Sitting down to garden is the only way I can handle myself now, in my late 70s, but oh! how I love doing that. When my mowing fella comes during the summer, he always follows my sharp edging quite nicely, but tentacles of underhanded grass sneaks into the border anyway. I use a hand cultivator to loosen the soil, then dig out the pernicious little clumps with a pronged digger and my gloved fingers.

    Next come taller perennials that I prune back as appropriate to the plant, some to the ground (hoping before new growth starts), others only a thinning our at the base. Usually I wait until March before pruning the roses, but someone on our gardening blogs suggested January. Yikes! Not here. Only fruit trees that orchardists take care of. We’re in Eastern Washington State where winters last quite a bit longer than the Seattle side — although they’ve been getting as much as we over here.

    1. I hope your spring comes soon! Sounds like you’ve got a great routine going.

  9. Heyjude says:

    It is a lovely contented feeling isn’t it after spending all day in the garden again. I think the joy of a garden for a gardener is in the planning, the creating, the ‘doing’ which is why we never think our gardens are finished.

    1. Definitely. It would be boring if it was finished.

  10. Sounds like the perfect kind of day! How lucky you are to have this treat in February.

    1. It was, Cindy. I think we’ve got a rainy weekend coming but this whole week has been glorious.

  11. Such a wonderful February day! I am living vicariously through you. We are knee deep in snow. Your gardens look beautiful 💗🌱🌷

    1. I hope the thaw comes soon, Lisa. You have been making excellent use of your time indoors.

  12. CCBethune says:

    Lovely photographs! And it’s wonderful to be back in the garden isn’t it? I have for pulmonaria under a cherry tree of mine, but there’s a whole border to get sorted first and I think it will need to wait till another year. Your one are beautiful though!

    1. I do love pulmonaria. They look after themselves.

  13. CCBethune says:

    That should say ‘a plan for Pulmonaria’! Sorry! 😀

  14. pinchofprayer says:

    It has been just beautiful here in England this last few weeks. Everything is awakening – revival! ?

  15. A delight for the senses Ali. Who would want to join a gym when you can get fresh air and exercise surrounded in beauty. May you have many more joyful days this year.

  16. Green? Flowers? Edging? Weeding? What are they all? We still have 18 inches of snow on the ground! Those signs of sprig won’t be noted here until mid-April at the earliest! I am jealous, very jealous!

    1. I know, it feels early even for us.

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