Getting My Feet Wet (And Fingernails Dirty)


Every gardener goes about their winter clean-up a little differently. Some start at one end of the yard and work neatly and methodically across the expanse until it’s all done. Some dabble a little here, and a little there, picking and choosing tasks as they present themselves. I’m somewhere in-between. I like to alternate tasks so as not to set winter-weary muscles into shock or spasm – a little raking, then a little bagging – a bit of pruning, then some soil amending. Then I’ll do a methodical sweep from one end of the yard to another to finish it all off.

This year we’re a bit behind, and usually by this time I’d have had a number of workable days in which the clean-up would already have been accomplished. When I walked out into the backyard and surveyed the sad state of affairs, I had a strange moment of wanting to give up. I contemplated not doing a damn thing, and letting the gardens and yard go all ‘Grey Gardens’ this year. With a new job and other responsibilities coming up, I felt a little overwhelmed. But I put on the gloves, unfolded the first paper lawn bag, and began as I always begin – pruning the sweet Autumn clematis to within a foot of the ground and removing last year’s twining stems from the arbor. You never when a spring or summer might be the last.

Another spring clean-up has begun, and the long, happy road to another warm season stretches far into the distance. Embrace it ~ summers are not endless, and spring is even less so.

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