Daffadils “haste away so soone” but there’s more to be done in the garden

Faire Daffadils, we weep to see
You haste away so soone:
As yet the early-rising Sun
Has not attain’d his Noone.

~ Robert Herrick, To Daffadills, 1648

In Sunday’s Mail Tribune column (Feb. 18, 2018), I wrote about dancing with the daffodils, which are beckoning springtime right now in the Rogue Valley.  But that isn’t all I’ve been doing in the garden this past warm-winter week. I’ve been taking advantage of the weather to cut back the coreopsis,  purple verbena, foxgloves, feverfew and other perennials that I left up over winter for foraging pollinators.

I like this time of the year. Underneath all of the dead stems and stalks and seed heads new growth emerges. Immediately the garden’s somberness  turns verdant.

Now is also the time of year when I have learned to be ready for any kind of weather. During early springtime in Southern Oregon, the weather can turn on a dime. As a matter of fact, nighttime temperatures are supposed to drop to the teens within the next few days. We may even catch a few more snowflakes in the valley – so different from just yesterday when I gardened in my shirtsleeves!

All of that new growth I’ve uncovered in the garden is vulnerable now; row cover will come in handy to protect the plants when temperatures dip below freezing. Even if the row cover blows off in the wind (as often happens), the outer leaves will help protect the inner foliage and root systems; perennials have a marvelous way of adapting to fluctuating temperatures. These plants have established  in my garden for a few seasons, so they’ve adapted to the micro-climate of my front yard. I’ll plant new perennials after the frost date (around April 28).

As I was clearing out the plant debris, I noticed that I need to thin out a few of the most ambitious reproducers in my garden. These are my purple foxgloves that are quite happy in the partial shade they get closer to the laurel hedge; also the gaura, or bee blossom, plants are maybe a little too content along my front path. Along with some daylilies in my front berm, I need to thin out all of these baby plants and move them to other spots in the garden or share them.

Speaking of rampant producers, there is another reason I like this time of the year. Underneath all of the dead stems and stalks and seed heads I find

Perennial garden after!

fledgling weeds lurking. Like every year, I fool myself into thinking I’m superior and pluck the exposed weeds out without mercy. I know they’ll exact their revenge on me later, but for now I feel triumphant.

One of the mature coreopsis has grown a thick tuft of foliage. I’ve added to my to-do list: thin out some inner leaves so the plant receives more sunlight and air. Without all the foliage, the plant will focus on producing bright yellow blossoms that begin in springtime and last almost until frost (usually around the end of October).

I wonder if the plants enjoy getting a haircut as much as I do?

As I’m clearing out the perennial gardens, I  notice some spots I want to fill in with plants, and other spots where I may want to try something different this season.

I like this time of year. Underneath all of the dead stems and stalks and seed heads new possibilities emerge.

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  • About the Author

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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