Matt Palmer did some significant work on the Erikson gardens, as apparent by the before and after mulching pictures. (Pam Erikson/Special to Black Press Media)

LANGLEY’S GREEN THUMB: Anxious to get ready for spring

Columnist Pam Erikson invites gardening questions via editor@langleyadvancetimes.com

by Pam Erikson/Special to Black Press Media

The last few days of fabulous sunshine have invigorated that sleeping inner gardener in all of us.

Now, before you rush out to do everything in one day, remember to pace yourself.

Every year, I get excited for the upcoming spring and on the first nice day, I overdo it and end up with many aches and pains for days after.

Remember that it is still early, so do a bit each day – the jobs will get done and you will feel much better for it.

PAST COLUMN: Garden tired, much like the gardener

Now, as the season gets going, here are a few tips to remember:

Lawns: We get many phone calls and questions about power raking, fertilizing, and aerating the lawns. While the weather is nice now, you must keep in mind that it is still early and the grounds continue to be quite saturated from the heavy rains and also we still have freezing at night.

Any work done to the lawn should not start until late March, otherwise you will just create a mudhole and a mess where the lawn used to be.

Perennials: Most perennials are easy to clean up in the beds after the winter as any leftover foliage from last year has dried up and decomposed. You can simply rake it or pull it off the beds. But, keep in mind that some plants hang onto their debris – peonies being the most likely culprit.

Do not attempt to just ‘pull’ the old stems off from last year – use clippers to cut them off or you will find yourself pulling the plant out. Any bulbs from last year, such as lilies, may still have a few short stems where you cut them back last fall, so be sure to notice them if you are digging or mulching so as not to damage them.

Pruning: You still have time to prune the fruit trees, usually until about the end of March. Once the sap starts flowing in the tree, you should wait.

Roses should be pruned now, down about one-third, as new shoots will be starting soon. Evergreens can be trimmed to give them a nice shape for the spring.

Annuals: As tempting as it can be when you see lovely plants in the local garden shops, it is way too early to even think about putting out any annuals yet. We use the May long weekend as our guideline. No point in purchasing, planting, getting a frost then watching them die, and then having to purchase again. Be patient.

Mulching: This is an excellent time to top dress or mulch your beds. Get the clean up done, pull whatever weeds have come up (they are always the first to grow), and top dress with a good mulch or compost. Mulching has many benefits – not only adding nutrition to the soil (depending on what you are using), but helps keep the weeds down and the moisture in when the weather warms up.

Get out there and have some fun!

– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club

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It’s also a good time to cleaning the old debris off the perennials. (Pam Erikson/Special to Black Press Media)

This is the only in-bloom colour you should be planting outside right now. Primulas don’t mind the frost or cold nights at all. (Pam Erikson/Special to Black Press Media)

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