Spring Treasure Hunt

Bergenia in Bloom

Bergenia in Bloom

They’re Plants Growing Underneath that Debris!

When I was out doing what I refer to as my first pass at spring clean-up in my Chicago garden, I noticed not only the new shoots of the bulbs and early spring bloomers, I uncovered the semi-evergreen plants in my garden.

I like to do my first cleanup of the season before the perennials start to grow so I don’t damage tender foliage and I can see what needs to be done with the bones of the garden.

My first cleanup of the season consists of cutting down ornamental grasses, trimming back shrubs that have overgrown their space and can be hard pruned such as Spirea, Smokebush, Kerria, and Annabelle Hydrangea. Then I rake off the debris, twigs, branches and some of the leaves I raked onto the beds in the fall to mulch the garden. I leave some of the leaves on the beds to finish decomposing in the spring rains, but remove enough so the plants can find their way to the sun.

I do some pruning of Red-Twigged Dogwood, roses, and other shrubs that consist of canes; removing the oldest 1/3 of the canes to keep the shrubs at their best.  I prune shrubs to create a pleasing shape with heading cuts, being sure to use a clean sharp pruners.

I remove old growth from dormant perennials such as Echinacea, Rudbekia, Hosta, Hemerocallis, Chrysanthemums, Lambs Ears, and Astilbe. These can be hard raked and tough stems can be broken off or pruned. 

Bergenia, Heuchera and Epimedium among other semi evergreen plants need to be trimmed carefully. I remove damaged foliage from the plants to make room for this year’s growth.  

I hope you will reward yourself with the treasure hunt for spring growth as you do your garden cleanup this year.

Posted on April 7, 2014 .