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Do this now to get your garden ready for spring!

Japanese flowering apricot
Japanese flowering apricot in the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden. When this tree starts to blossom you know that winter is almost over.

by Ellen Zagory
Director of Public Horticulture

Spring is on the way! The sentinel plant I always look for that tells me spring is on the way is the beautiful Japanese flowering apricot in the Ruth Ridson Storer garden. When it opens its beautiful, fragrant, dark rose-pink flowers I know winter is almost done. In between the last of this season's rains is a great time to get out walk around and make a plan for the coming season.

Check succulents

Some of our succulent plants may have been damaged by the repeated frosts so check them for new sprouts and healthy stems. Resist the urge to cut off damaged leaves as those will help protect basal growth from late frost. By the end of the month you can, if necessary, cut them back to where you see firm growth and sprouts.

Assess weeds

Those pesky weeds have taken full advantage of the fabulous rain we had and if you had a good layer of mulch there will only be a few to pull. Try and get them before they go to seed. In the words of our fabulous Superintendent Emeritus Warren Roberts, “one year of weed seed , seven years of weeding,” so get out and nip those weeds in the bud!

Planting planning

You have a little time now to add to your garden and establish plants before the return of summer. (Be sure to shop early spring plant sales for the best selection!) This is a great time to divide and expand plantings of Michaelmas daisies, goldenrod, and other perennials as soon as new sprouts appear.

Last-minute pruning

Did you forget to shape your peach tree or never get around to cutting back last year’s sages?  Now is a good time to shape plants to emerging buds before leaves come out and it is more difficult to see the plant’s branch structure. Check for shrubs that set their flower buds in summer of the previous year like Asian lilacs (Syringa ), flowering quince (Chaenomeles) and mock-orange (Philadelphus).