Uncover, prune and remove

Yes Kate, you do have to go out and pull the leaves off your flowers. 

In Wisconsin it is a bit tricky to find the right time to do this.  The leaves and stems of old perennials provide a bit of insulation to the plants, but that insulation can be smothering for those early season bulbs that are trying to grow and bloom.

I always try to get the old leaves and garden debris (and garbage) out of the beds in the first weeks of March, if there is no snow on the ground, because my garden records indicate that the first snowdrop blooms somewhere between March 10-20.  If those are not uncovered, they will be smothered.

Tougher things like tulips and daffodils usually will pierce right through garden debris, but I like to get leaves off of them while it is still easy.

I don’t use a garden fork, just my hands, so that I snap off as few buds as possible.

Don’t get rid of the debris, either– if you have room, dig a hole in a new bed and put the leaves, etc. in and cover it with dirt- you will have beautiful rich soil from this.  You could also put it in your composter, but this is the time of year that I empty my composter out completely and add all that material plus the garden debris to my currently empty dahlia bed.  It looks terrible for awhile, but it will look better eventually, and the dahlias appreciate it.

This is also the time to prune those crossing branches that you didn’t notice before (when you pruned in late winter).  I force the branches in the house– I’ve had some nice crabapples and magnolias already, and the dogwoods in the front containers are very cheerful.

Unlike most gardening, which I will put off until I have to do something– planting bulbs in the fall and uncovering beds in the spring are two garden tasks that really should be done on schedule.  The advantage of uncovering the beds is that you get to be outside after being cooped up in the house all winter… thank goodness!

This entry was posted in Suggestions, Tips and Tricks and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Uncover, prune and remove

  1. Ryan says:

    That’s the kind of job I can’t wait to do! Anything that I can do after winter that gets me into the garden is fantastic. I’m always itching to get back to it!



  2. Tracey says:


    As spring clean up in Wisconsin rolls around, I’m finding myself filled with excitement yet confusion on what flowers to plant this year. Every year, I plant annuals around my mailbox. It looks pretty, however it’s kind of a maintenance nightmare. Because the mailbox is close to the road and with Wisconsin’s snowy conditions, my flower bed is salt and sand laden each spring. Do you recommend that I plant perennnials? If so, what kind? Thanks for your much needed help!

  3. gwendolyngarden says:


    I think perennials would be a nice thing in your mailbox bed– since you get a lot of sun in that area, and you need a tough plant, I might plant Black-Eyed Susans, or a tall sedum (a lot of folks like autumn joy, but I prefer sedum matrona)or both– even a fountain grass will be tough enough to handle the roadside conditions.

    I have daylilies around my mailbox and they are pretty fuss-free plants– plant and water the first year and after that, they’ll take salt, snow and the occasional phone book dropped on them.
    I like a lot of color around the mailbox so I have early blooming bulbs as well as a midsummer flowering clematis jackmanii climbing on the back of the mailbox– purple and orange are a nice vivid combination.

    My mother always plants peonies around her mailbox, very elegant and so beautiful when they are in bloom, but those wouldn’t help you this summer, peonies should be planted in fall.

    Try and avoid anything too tall, and no shade plants. If you want to do daylilies, you can find some ok colors at any garden center. Jungs has some good varieties, and if you can find it, one you may particularly like is “Fire Engine Nicholas,” which I grow in honor of my nephew.

    Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s