Untidy yards ready for spring cleanup

By this time in late March we should be looking back at the winter, marveling how quickly it passed, and getting on with the business of spring.

Not this year, however. There still are a few snow piles around to remind us of what we endured for all those months. The poor crocuses have made their way through the frozen ground at least twice when there was a short, temporary thaw, but I think they have now given up for the year.

The forsythia branches I brought inside have decided to skip the cheerful yellow flowers and come right out with green leaves. I know there are two kinds of buds on the branches, but I must have picked mine at the wrong time to enjoy the bright flowers.

All the daffodil and hyacinths blooming in the garden centers and stores look artificial in contrast to the drab flower beds outside, still hiding under a brown and dreary coat. It is time to get out there and clean up.

There are signs of hope.

People have told me their spring bulbs are shooting up, although I don’t see much action with mine yet. I expect, by the time this column appears, I will see more progress.

At least the buds on the star magnolia are fattening up, and the dead leaves from the ornamental grasses are blowing all around the neighborhood.

Two sure signs of spring.

And thousands of redbud seed pods are littering the garden from a nearby tree and need to be raked up before they begin to sprout.

The record snowfall of the winter of 2014 will not have damaged our gardens. In fact, the insulating properties of the snow will have protected our plants through all that dreadfully cold weather.

I don’t remember such a bitter winter since 1978, when my husband died on the day of the January blizzard.

Now all the spring work needs to be under way. As I walk the dogs, I notice all the untidy yards just like mine, and resolve to pick up the pace. Sticks, stones and litter need to be raked and the soil loosened, just to make things more appealing.

With some seasonal businesses reopening, there are temptations everywhere for those with poorly controlled acquisitional tendencies. Of whom I am one.

I have flats of seedlings growing well in the basement, unlike last year when germination was poor. There will be a lot of flowers ready to go outside in May.

Before they leaf out, the climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckle need a little more work to ensure color and scent all season long.

The Knockout roses, especially, need radical pruning if they are to give of their best.

The Tiffin Tree and Beautification Commission, of which I am a member, has taken on City Lot 6 on Monroe Street for this summer, and we will be getting started soon.

There are other lots, small parks and flower beds in the city that need adoptive parents. If you could take on the responsibility for an area, call Judy at City Hall at (419) 448-5401, and she would be delighted to fix you up.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.

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