The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the wind had dropped, and the ground was covered with messy sticks, stones, straw, leaves and assorted debris. In other words, it looked as though I needed to go outside with a rake, shovel and a bin and start the great spring clean-up.
It was earlier than usual this year, but the weather was so appealing, and the daffodil shoots showed beautifully green against the littered ground, so I went outside to make a start. It was Leap Year Day, which made it even more memorable and, although I didn't get a whole lot done, at least it was a start.
A lot of the stuff I gathered went onto the compost pile, and the cigarette butts and candy wrappers from passers-by were easy, if nasty, to dispose of. The hard parts to attack were all of the damaged trellises, fencing, pathways and containers that did not weather the winter so well.
Seen from a distance, things do not look so bad, but a close-up view suggests a lot of work needs to be done.
In addition to general sprucing, there is something else to do. I have a number of plants that are not earning the space they take up each year in the flower borders, and I need to be ruthless about them. It is always hard to pull out anything that is not a weed, but some things simply need to go. They linger on from year to year in a kind of half-life, encouraging one to believe they are on the brink of a great resurgence, but that is never going to happen.
Roses are good at this trickery.
They persuade us to go to great lengths with spray, pruners, fertilizer and other TLC while we know in our heart of hearts things will never get completely satisfactory. Sparse flowers, early black spot, brownish leaves, bare stems, can you tell I have a particular rose in mind? It is a white climber that languishes on a trellis, shows early promise and then dwindles away to become an eyesore.
And then there are the hollyhocks. I see beautiful specimens in stony alleys uptown, crowded along the sides of buildings, but my cherished plants hardly get tall enough to produce their first buds until the bugs start to chew great holes in the leaves and the dreaded rust appears.
Out they go!
As I clean up this spring, I am going to take out anything that does not deserve a spot in my limited space. Goodness knows there are plenty of seedlings growing in the basement that will be happy to fill the spaces.
I have been battling invasive lilies of the valley and chameleon plants in the front garden, but I am going to listen this year to what they have been trying to tell me. Instead of trying to coax more reluctant perennials to bloom in that area, I will make peace with those ground covers, and let them fill the spaces between the hostas and impatiens. They will crowd out most of the weeds there, and no one but me will know they were a mistake in the first place.
So there it is. Plenty to get started with outside, and as soon as the lovely weather returns, I am going to be out there, tools in hand.