Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring clean-up in our habitat garden.

Over several weeks in spring we gradually clean up the dead plant material that was left for the winter. All tall stems that are still standing are cut back and laid out in the pathways in the wild garden behind the garage. That includes fennel,sunflower, heliopsis,hydrangea,Joe-pye-weed and lily stems that are tall and brittle.
A lot of low lying foliage is left to decompose in place. The intermediate sized is mostly clipped or broken into smaller pieces and put into the compost.
Depending on where the taller grass is growing it may be cut into segments and left on the ground or put in the compost.
Leaves are left to mulch where they are.

Each year the old blackberry canes must be pruned out and the new canes kept in bounds. So there is always a pile of thorny brambles.
One of the red osier dogwood is cut back to the ground and allowed to regrow. The others are left to flower and berry. There are four tall dense shrubs and a couple of smaller ones from cuttings so there will be plenty of berries. Otherwise we do little pruning of the other shrubs.
All woody branches join wood piles or are used as starter for the grill or chimenea.


I do a bit of weeding.
Previous gardeners grew several Rose of Sharon of which we have left a couple as small trees.
This means every spring there are many seedlings to dig out. Some dandelions are allowed to grow in the grass but beheaded elsewhere. Lady'sthumb/smartweed is edited leaving enough to sustain a few beneficials. All wild thistle and bindweed must go.
I have found some interesting plants amid the weeds over the years and tend to allow them to grow until identified.

The perennial vines are few. Virginia creeper and a couple of clematis are easily cut back.

Its pretty close to time for the first mowing of the greenways...

3 Comments:

Blogger WrenaissanceWoman said...

Morning, Gloria! :)

I also loved Sara Stein's books. It's a pleasure to discover another wildlife-friendly gardener in the MidWest.

Thanks for stopping by Wrenaissance and introducing yourself.

17/4/07 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Firefly said...

"Lady'sthumb/smartweed is edited leaving enough to sustain a few beneficials."

I like that -- "edited." That's what I did to the oxalis popping up in all the empty garden spots last year -- it made great cover and was very pretty, but if it started to muscle in on other things it was politely escorted out of the garden.

Thank you for the great idea what to do with the Mexican sunflower stems too -- there's a spot behind the garage too shady for gardening, but perfect for laying out long stalks.

17/4/07 2:34 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Welcome wrenaissance woman, it is wonderful to find a blog so centered on wildlife.

firefly, I really like smartweed. It is pretty and very
self-reliant, just tends to be a little aggressive. Not so much that it gets out of hand. My neighbor shakes his head when I tell him it is for the pollinators.

The Mr and I try to keep all yard waste to decompose on hand. This kind of garden can produce a lot of bio-mass. I can see how the plains became such a rich opportunity for farmers.

25/4/07 2:12 PM  

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