Back to Back Issues Page
Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #338 - Perennial Grass cleanup is easier with this simple technique
April 18, 2019

We are ready for the gardening season when we can get the ponds, rivers and waterfalls back into operation. The rivers have been cleaned. One of the ponds has had the worst of the sludge and walnuts scooped out. Never a pleasant task. The middle pond has great growth on the Lilies but that’s because they are rooted into a great depth of sludge in the bottom and I have to decide if I can scoop out enough or whether this is the year for the great empty and clean operation. Never an enticing option. Found a fair number of dead fish this year and the Heron has already made a few visits so there will be a trip to the fish store with the grandchildren in the near future. I am a little slow getting the ponds up and running because we escaped for 8 days to Florida with 8 grandchildren and their parents for a wonderful family holiday. Now we are scrambling to get caught up with garden activities.

If you have always hated cleaning up some of our larger decorative grasses, here’s a tip. Tie the dead grass into a firm bundle while it is still standing and then cut at the ground level and see how easy it is to carry away the bundle of dead grass. If you do it carefully there should be minimal clean up as all of the grass stalks should be firmly in the bundle. I make a loop in one end of the string wrap it around the grass and then insert the other end through the loop making it easy to pull tight and then knot it to keep it on place. If the grass is very long then tie it in a couple of places so that you can cut it into shorter bundles when it is loose from the ground.

The earliest Snowdrops are all but finished but this bunch is on the N side of the house in the Creeping Thyme that serves as a lawn. It is probably the first bunch I planted at least 15 years ago and they have spread into quite a large clump. They have survived several remakes of this area. They have been sodded over at least twice and now have to compete with the very dense Thyme but each year the clump gets bigger and better and the Squirrels ignore them. Snowdrops are one of those bulbs that don’t get planted enough. They tend to relatively expensive when compared to Crocus or similar small early bulbs but they are a great investment as they last for many years and the clump just keeps getting bigger.

If you want to know how deep the snow was this winter just go and have a look at some of your flowering shrubs. This was a nice new and tender one and you will notice that the carefully pruned pieces are all at the same height. They were just fine and twice as tall, in the fall. The nice clean cut gives you some idea of just how big and sharp the bunnies teeth are. There are some products in the market that I could spray on in the autumn to deter these little fiends but they tend to wear off over the winter and become less effective. I should have had my traps out there in the winter when they might actually be enticed to enter for a succulent carrot as an alternative to my woody shrubs. Now it has become difficult to attract them into a trap as there is a banquet poking out of the soft spring soil. Another summer of fencing and moaning lies ahead of me, I guess. Maybe I’ll go out this Sunday and see if they left me any chocolate eggs.

A much happier sign of spring and a good winter is the abundance of buds opening on my Tree Peony. There will be very little pruning to do this year. There are always a few bits of dead wood and I simply cut them back to the first opening bud. Each of these buds should grow a couple of sets of leaves and then open into those huge purple flowers that make this shrub more than earn its spot in the garden. I planted a new yellow one last fall and it appears to be alive. With a bit of luck it might provide one or two blooms this year or it might make me wait. Typically, I planted it later in the autumn when it was on sale at the Nursery. 50% off is my favourite price and I purchased quite a number of new perennials last fall and I’m anxiously waiting to see how they do. One Hellebore is already in bloom .

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Connie Asks? I am attempting to grow succulents from seed this year. Getting conflicting advice regarding whether or not to soak the seeds first so would appreciate your opinion.

Ken Answers! This is my opportunity to display my lack of knowledge. Never having tried to grow succulents from seed I have no idea how to answer Connie’s question but I’m sure Dr. Google will have several opinions to share:-)

Back to Back Issues Page