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Spring landscaping in the garden

By on May 22, 2014

Like for most of the U.S. this year, our Midwest spring season arrived later than usual. But after a long long long winter, we’re doing some spring landscaping, and our backyard and all its garden loveliness has finally sprung back to life.

Our Garden Spring 2014 | Rather Square

I’ve talked before about the very beautiful ornamental garden that came with our house… and how John and I are pretty much novices when it comes to maintaining it. We don’t have black thumbs or anything, but we’re more well versed in the art of vegetable and herb gardening than in flower and shrub upkeep. I took some notes during a quick “garden orientation” meeting with the previous owner (who spent a lot of time and attention on these plants) so we do have some information like plant names and a few care instructions. But I was writing so fast and so much that my notes are kind of jumbled.

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

We’ve done some online research into specific individual plants when we think they need immediate attention. Last summer, John trimmed our boxwood and yew shrubs.

Boxwood Shrubs | Rather Square

Trimming Yew Shrubs | Rather Square

And I’ve done a few posts on our Annabelle hydrangea, which I cut back last fall after reading that would help them grow bushier and more compact.

Annabelle Hydrangea | Rather Square

Pruning Hydrangeas | Rather Square

Hydrangeas in the Snow | Rather Square

Spring came late this year (our brave daffodils bloomed despite an April snowfall), so one relatively mild weekend last month, we went out into the garden to assess its post-winter condition. It didn’t look too bad, but we wanted to clean and trim around the plants while they were still mostly dormant. There were a lot of leftover fallen autumn leaves, broken branches, and dead growth to clear out, so we did a bit of spring landscaping.

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

Last summer we had a ton of healthy sage, but I also noticed at the time that several areas of this sprawling plant looked dead. So this spring I cut everything back to the main stem. Sage stems are pretty woody, so I used small hand pruners for this. Hopefully some new growth will emerge from the remaining plant as it gets warmer.

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

The previous owner had told us to “vigorously” prune the smoke tree that grows up next to our dining nook window. So John took that literally and cut quite a bit off before winter set in last year. You can see in the photos below how he pruned everything to the bottom of the window. We waited several months to see if we’d been too vigorous and killed this tree – but luckily, it seems to be growing back nicely. Not as full as before, but hopefully it will fill in again as time goes on.

Pruining a Smoke Tree | Rather Square

John also cut back this other small tree (called a burning bush, because it turns red in the fall) on the other end of the garden next to the garage. It too has been rejuvenating as the weather’s gotten warmer.

Pruning a Burning Bush | Rather Square

And of course, I’ve been monitoring our four Annabelle hydrangea bushes after I pruned them last fall. I posted an update recently when I noticed tiny leaf buds appearing. It’s been a month since then, and these bushes have gotten really leafy! It’s a great sign, but it remains to be seen if we’ll see any actual flowers appear. Fingers crossed…

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

There are way too many other plants and flowers to mention, but overall things seem to be growing very well. In fact, the garden seems to be on autopilot – most if not all of what the previous owner planted are perennials (meaning they grow back year after year), so they’ve just come back on their own without much help from us. So far we’ve seen lots of pretty colors and leafy growth, such as tulips, daffodils, brunnera (“false forget-me-nots”), lilacs, hostas, chives, ferns, alliums, rhododendrons, and more. Here are some recent snapshots from the last few weeks:

Our Spring Garden | Rather Square

We were able to clear out the debris around plants and trim off any dead wood in a couple of afternoons. Not too bad, and we even had a little helper to fill up our yard bags. She took her spring landscaping assistant job very seriously and collected every discarded twig, leaf or clipping in sight.

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

But we do have one much larger landscaping project we are planning to tackle before summer sets in. It concerns the giant yew shrubs in our front yard that form a thick impenetrable border around our sunroom. Remember these?

Trimming Yew Shrubs | Rather Square

They pretty much take up the entire front yard, stopping about two feet from the sidewalk (and we’ve got a few hostas and roses currently in this narrow strip of yew-free yard). John had a hard time trimming the yews last year, and they are really overgrown and out of control. So we’ve got some significant changes we want to make to this part of our yard. We’ll talk more details about this in an upcoming post (UPDATE: take a look at our yew renovation!), but here’s a sneak preview of our plans:

Spring Landscaping | Rather Square

So, how does your garden grow this spring?

(linked on Remodelaholic)

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May 22, 2014

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