Crocus of yellow, new and gay;
Mauve and purple, in brave array
By the touch of the warm and welcoming sun;
Opened suddenly – spring’s begun!
Dance then fairies, for joy and sing;
The song of the coming, again of spring!
-The Song of the Crocus Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker
Every year I promise myself to plant more spring bulbs to herald in the season and to give my gardens that wonderful burst of colour amongst the winter browns. I eagerly anticipate the time when they poke up through people’s lawns, to the amazing colour of tulips by my friend’s front door and, especially, to the mass of crocuses and snowdrops that grow along the roadside garden on Silver Sands Road. When I was on the Coast this March, I was able to “rescue” hundreds of snowdrops, crocuses and little grape hyacinths out of a yard that was destined for an excavator job, so now I’ve got plenty more for next year.
So let’s be ready to spring into action for this years’ gardening season.
Pruning is best when plants are just coming out of dormancy, but when you prune depends on why you are pruning. Sometimes it’s before or after flowering, so consult your available resources before you start cutting and sawing. Pruning can be injurious to plants and trees, so it should be done carefully and with sharp, bypass tools so that damage is kept to a minimum.
Take the time to relocate and re-arrange any of your existing plants into beds that have the same watering, soil composition and exposure needs. This will considerably reduce your watering, disease and pest issues because each bed will have its own appropriate ecosystem and will function much better and healthier. Make sure all soil around the plant roots is cleaned off first, including the new ones you buy from the store or get from a friend, so that the soils are the same.
Make sure you have lots of room for composting and a spot to stockpile different materials in order to layer in a variety of nutrients. Hopefully you’ve got lots of ready material from last fall, which can be spread on top of your garden beds once the ground warms up a bit. Again, try to get yourself a little yard chipper or leaf shredder because all of the materials from the yard cleanup can be sliced and diced and put into your compost pile instead of chucking it out, and you’ll be ready for the fall leaves, which are loaded with nutrients.
If your plants are bursting their beds, move or split them now. Try to find homes for the ones you don’t want, rather than tossing them out. Call Kay at the municipal yard because she may be able to use them around town, save them for the annual plant exchange at Cambie Hall, leave them at the end of your driveway with a free sign or just dig them in somewhere. They are living things.
Equip your vehicle so you don’t miss an opportunity to grab some composting materials, a plant or the perfect rock, piece of driftwood or garden ornament. I carry a work shirt or coveralls, a trowel, kneepads, gloves, a yard bag and a tarp with me at all times in the car. If I spy a goodie in someone’s back 40 or I would like to ask a homeowner something about their garden and they’re not home, I keep a notepad, pen and tape in the glove compartment so I can leave my phone number.
Search out and buy organic seed and plants, which are naturally more nutritious and disease and pest resistant, and avoid any that have been genetically engineered. Learn how to save your own seeds this year.
And lastly, adopt the Gaia College motto of “do no harm.” Your garden is alive with a billion life forms, so the use of toxic fertilizers and any product with a “cide” on the label, will poison and seriously damage your garden’s delicate ecosystem and the animals and birds that use it for a food source. Your body and the fairies will appreciate it too.