With the snow melting fast and rivulets running from our field-in-view, the winter-numbed mind begins to turn to thoughts of gardening. Others must be thinking similar thoughts because visits to this blog are increasing without any input on my part for over three weeks.
What lies ahead?
Our spring is a couple of weeks early this year, and this would be the time to be pruning woody plants. I will avoid tramping about on the sun-warmed, south-wall areas where the soil may have thawed because I don’t wish to compact the moist soil. Most trees and shrubs will still be rooted in frozen earth and I can begin pruning and thinning those. In the front garden, an Amur maple leans to the south-west due to competition from the large spruce which used to fill the north part of the garden. The new paper birch which replaces it is still small at about 4m (12 ft.) in height, so I will reduce the maple so that it does not over-power that corner of the garden.
In the back-garden I will be pruning the apple, reducing its height so that the fruit remains reasonably within reach. I will not reduce the spread very much, because the branches give shade and the sight of apple-blossoms over our pergola is a joy to behold. Most of the shrubs will need just the odd branch cut back here and there–the offending eye-pokers and fence-heavers cut well back and then damaged and sickly parts removed. I will rejuvenate the dogwood this year to encourage new bright red growth, and the path-side elder will also be cut back to the base. ‘No worries’, as the Home Bug Gardener would say: it will return to its 2m(6 ft.) height and spread by July.
This spring we are having the roof of the house and garage done. Our back-garden spruce will need to have some branches that are now in contact with the garage roof cut-back so that the workers can do their job. This tree, already a bit worn-looking from the need to raise the branches and thin for light penetration will not look better for it. Besides providing a good role as a canopy to the entrance of the garden, it was (and probably still is) the favoured (but sticky) climbing tree for our 14 year-old daughter, so I cannot bare to remove it just yet. It also brings in the birds and it houses a large nesting box well over the height of the house. But like many urban trees of its generation, it was planted too close to the building and without any consideration made for the size it could become, and I will have to face removing it at some point.
What is planned for the garden in 2010? The same as the last two years: a study studio for my daughter in the far back of the garden, which requires compressing the vegetable garden to compensate; then the re-building of a small seating area in the front. Let’s see if I organize my time better this year…