Sunday, April 25, 2021

Perennial Bed Clean-up Effort

I have a few existing perennial beds in my yard that really need some TLC.  The last couple of years have been quite busy for me and I just haven't had the time to do them justice.  As a result, they have a lot of weeds and grasses in them and the existing ornamental plants get lost in the mess.  It's difficult to do the clean-up later in the season when things are all the more lush and mature, so I wanted to try to get at least one bed done this spring if I could.  The one I chose to tackle first is the middle-sized one, and it had a really bad case of grass and creeping jenny, which is a cute groundcover but is way too invasive for my liking.

Here's the matted grass and weeds that I started with.  It was dreadful, except for my poor little daffodil, in a sea of grass and mess.

I had to start somewhere, so I began in one little corner. You can see the buried tub where I put my mint so it doesn't take over the world.

The weather was really ideal for doing this work.  We'd had enough rain that the soil could be worked, but the sun was out for much of the weekend, and it was good to be out in the yard.  I saw this lovely little crab spider (not sure on species) scurrying away when I was digging.  So far, there aren't a lot of insects visiting.

The work was pretty daunting.  I used my heavy garden fork to lift all the soil in chunks, and then hand lifted it to pull the matted weedy layer off the top.  I shook out the soil from the root mass and then smoothed over the surface.  I used several carrying buckets to take all the root bundles to the compost heap.  My shoulders are pretty sore this evening, but it was a good 2 days work.  As I uncovered things, I found some good perennials that I left in place.  At times though, it seemed overwhelming.

But by the end of Sunday afternoon, the results were pretty clear.  I even lifted some of the edging rocks and cleaned all the moss off them.

I don't know how many times I went to the compost pile and back, but I know that my fitbit racked up way more steps than usual!  I feel that I now have more space to plant some new, interesting plants that will fill in some of the spaces.

I rescued this cute little Virginia ctenucha larva and popped it back into a leaf pile.  I won't see the adult moths for some months yet.

The plant at the back with the post at the base is a climbing white hydrangea.  On the other side of the trellis is a clematis.  There are some currant bushes in this bed - two blackcurrant, a red currant, and a jostaberry.  There are some tulips just coming in at the front.  There are several lavenders, a large clump of daylilies, two poppies, some yellow loosestrife (also really invasive), a couple of irises that have never bloomed, some pink and white phlox, and an echinops.  I think there might also be an ornamental grass clump. The purple wire chair-like thing accommodates a coir liner in which I usually plant some colourful annuals.

It doesn't look like much right now, but keep in mind that our snow has really only melted recently, so it's just the beginning of the season.  The daffodil is the only one up - the rest out front aren't open yet.  The crocuses have just finished.  I think it could do with some nice clumps of salvia, maybe some heuchera, and perhaps some echinacea or other low-maintenance perennials that will just get on with the business of growing.  I put a few flat rocks down through the bed so I can more easily access certain areas without having to compact the soil with each step. 

Ideally, I'll get some fertilizer in the next week or so to top-dress this bed, and then a few bags of mulch to put down so that hopefully the weeds won't get quite as rampant this year. I would use some of my compost but it needs more time to mature.  I'll have to keep an eye on the weeds and grasses but at least it's possible to see, now, what I've got in there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Walk in the Woods

I went for a walk in the woods today, in the hopes that the trails I had used for snowshoeing this past winter would be clear of any remaining ice and snow, and also not too boggy, since we've had a bit of a wet spring (as usual).  I did end up having to cross a few boggy areas, but in general, it was a successful walk.  I had only discovered the trail this winter in my efforts to get out more, so it was a new experience for me to walk this trail in anything other than snowy conditions.  I was delighted with the beauty all around me in this spring season.

In particular, the trail is absolutely packed with vast areas of Cladonia species of lichen, which are commonly known as reindeer lichens.  They are an important winter food source for many small animals.  I'm not sure which species this is....there are a quite a few.

This one is Giant Cladonia (Cladonia maxima)

As you can see from this photo, there are large patches of Cladonia along both sides of the trail.

I love the mixed greens that are beginning to show in the mosses and lichens.

Some areas are almost entirely sphagnum moss species, and are wonderfully green and spongy underfoot.  You can see the blue markers on the trees that help mark the trail when the snow covers the path.

The scenery is very peaceful and I find it calming to walk here.

The club mosses are also emerging now.  

As I came to the end of my walk, I spotted an interesting critter!

I don't often see snakes on my walks.  This is a Maritime garter snake.  Totally harmless, and quite exciting to see!  

I don't think it was all that happy about being photographed, so I retreated and let it go on its way.

I then came home and managed to get my snow peas and sugar snap peas planted in my raised beds.  I noticed that I had some parsnip foliage beginning to show from some leftover parsnips from last year.  I wasn't quite expecting this harvest though!

There are lots of big ones, too!

I think there's some parsnip soup in my immediate future!