Getting ready for spring

I know I’m jinxing ourselves by even mentioning the “s” word, but spring was definitely in the air yesterday. After a good hard rain, the air was as clear as can be, and the accumulated dust and grime of the past months was gone. But more than that, the light looked less wintry, too—the sun a little higher in the sky, and the day a little longer.

Beautiful puffy clouds in the morning

I decided to grab this opportunity by the neck and do some trimming in front of the house. As you can see in the “before” photo below, quite a few perennials needed to be cut back.

Before trimming.
Lots of dead stuff on deciduous perennials and unruly growth on evergreen perennials.

Things look much tidier now. Some of the clumps, especially the Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ and the cat mint (Nepeta × faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’), had dead areas in the middle caused by a lack of light. Cutting them way back—all the way to the ground in the case of the cat mint—not only keeps their size compact, it also stimulates lush and dense new growth.

After trimming.
We cut the lavenders back last year so there’s no need to trim them this year.

However, I decided to leave the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland’ be for now because I still enjoy its winter foliage and the tall plumes with the fluffy seed heads on top.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland’ still intact

We had already done most of the trimming inside the front yard fence. The only thing left to do is remove the dead foliage on the golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa), seen on the right in the panorama below.

Planting bed inside the front yard fence

While at first glance most plants are still in winter mode, there are definite signs of spring when you look closer. Here are a few I noticed.

First flower bud on our variegated Eureka lemon. We had flowers last year, too, but no fruit. The tree has been in the ground for three years now, so maybe there’ll be a lemon or two this year. The fruit is beautiful.
New shoot on an established Verbena bonariensis, one of my favorite summer flowers
Bog sage (Salvia uliginosa)
Firebird penstemon (Penstemon 'Firebird')
Sea holly (Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’). Highly unusual to see a flower bud on a very short stalk—and this early! I’m not sure if this is a leftover from last year or a new bud. The rest of the plant is completely dormant.
I’m not a hellebore expert (this is only the 2nd hellebore I’ve owned, having killed the first), but this appears to be a developing flower bud on Helleborus argutifolius ‘Janet Starnes’
Euphorbia × martinii, one of my favorite spurges, is putting out lots of new growth. The color of the new leaves is beautiful, a perfect match for the wine red stems.
Euphorbia × martinii
New culms on Thamnochortus insignis, a restio from South Africa.
I planted it outside the front yard fence almost exactly a year ago, and it’s good to see these new shoots.
Much to my surprise, I spotted a new shoot on our Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridivittata’). This clumping bamboo normally shoots from summer to fall. It’s possible this is a late shoot from last year, but I never noticed it until now. In any case, it is a welcome sight, and it does remind me that spring is just around the corner.

Today, another storm system is moving in and we’re battening down the hatches. But rain is good after such a long dry spell. We’re up to 4.08 inches now for the 2011-2012 water year which started on July 1st, 2011; normal would be 9.56 inches.


  1. Its almost there, and days like you've mentioned does increase one's sense of optimism that spring is just round the corner.

    Job well done on clearing up! I have yet to do ours but I must admit I'm starting to get the urge to start doing a full on spring clear up. Love the Euphorbia shot, they remind me of birds for some reason :)

  2. Don't you hate cutting down last year's growth? Everything seems so empty until the new growth starts coming in.


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