Time To Tidy Up

This time of year starts a frenzy of garden to-do lists.  Seed packets are organized, new seed varieties are studied, and plans are being made for the gardens.  Not much can be planted outside now, but the greenhouse space is already filling up.
For my garden, ornamental grasses, climbing roses, and hydrangeas can be cut back in preparation for spring.  Timing for this is usually late winter but it seems late winter came in January this year.
My daffodils were in full bloom by the third week of February and have survived a couple of hard freezes.  You have to be a tough plant to live in my garden and these have garnered much respect this year.
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Ornamental grasses can be cut back to make room for spring growth.  In this case, I found blooming daffodils.
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Cutting back hydrangeas depend on the type you have.  Some hydrangeas bloom on new wood and some on old wood.  My ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea blooms on new wood, so I can cut them back and get a fresh flush of growth in spring and abundant flowers in the summer.
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If your hydrangea blooms on old wood, cutting the plant down will not give you any blooms for the year and that’s just tragic.  In my opinion, summertime shade gardens are not complete without the spectacular blooms of a hydrangea.  If you are unsure what type you have, just leave it alone for a season and it will show you.
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If you don’t have time to cut back your new wood bloomers,  don’t worry, they will still bloom.  I just don’t like looking at naked branches mixed in with blooms.  Not that you can really see them but, by March, my pruning disorder has kicked in and makes me a crazy, twig-trimming women.  From now until fall, pruners will be part of my wardrobe, snug in my back pocket, ready to be whipped out at a moments notice.
Sometimes, as I’m trimming up plants, I find surprises.
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These are praying mantis egg sacs.  They are so tightly woven, they are almost impossible to penetrate.  This particular shrub had five on it.  Considering each case holds approximately 300 babies means I will have an army of bug eaters working for me this summer.  Unfortunately, praying mantis cannot distinguish good bugs from bad bugs.  I have seen them pounce on a grasshopper, munch on a spider and, sadly, eat a butterfly.  I read they will also eat bees, mice and small frogs.   I can only hope they develop a taste for moles because, looking at all the tunnels I have in my yard, I must have hundreds.
What’s happening in your garden?
Brenda
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