By Edith Morgan
Spring! We all know it is coming, and it comes every year in its own unique way. The seasons change here in New England, and there are always more or less four of them! But what makes life so interesting and challenging here is that you can never be sure when, or how long, or how intense, each of our seasons will be.
So, I still run out to see the first snowflake of each winter – though I have seen so many of them through the decades! And now I go out to see if I can spot the first crocus poking its tiny spear through the snow or through the mud or through the leftover mulch or deteriorating leaves still on the ground.
But even before I have spotted any sign of life, I know the bushes and shrubs and even a lone vine or two in my hedge will need help.
The forsythia is already showing signs of swelling buds and should soon be in bloom. It is usually the first to burst upon the still wintry scene, straggly from its last burst of leafy growth in the fall. Every year I cut a few sprigs near the end of winter, stick them in water and watch them blossom in my house. Often they even root and can then be put in the ground once it has thawed – so you can start a new bud!
My property is not large enough to have a whole row of forsythia bushes, but they are a glorious golden wall in those yards that can accommodate them, at least for a while, until the blossoms shrivel and drop to the ground to be replaced by green leaves. Forsythia is a very “thankful” plant – it tolerates our winters, needs very little attention and will thrive almost anywhere. But if you want lush growth, mulching and fertilizing helps. And it will assume a variety of shapes, if trimmed back properly in the spring. I have admired round, golden balls of forsythia, squared-off shapes and whole hedges! So, here’s to forsythia!!
It is now nearly time to tend to the other bushes around our foundations and elsewhere in our yards. Raking away the debris of winter, giving plants a good new coating of mulch and pruning back dead or broken branches will help them to put their strength into good new growth. I am really not enough of an expert to detail here how each species needs to be cared for to get the best results – and there is not space enough here to deal with all the varieties that grace our yards. But if you use the resources available to you (the library, your computer, the various stores that sell fertilizer, shrubs, seeds, and all the small hardware and nurseries) you can do well. I have always found that those who deal in these goods are more than willing to help with advice. So you can get free education anywhere! … If you have gotten to the age where you cannot do the heavy lifting anymore, there is lots of help out there.
Now we just have to wait for the warm days of spring, for the ground to soften, and the whole process to begin again!
Good luck, good gardening …