Spring is in the air and the locals are restless with cabin fever. Although the specific dates of the season are based on astronomy and meteorology, we all know what spring means: rebirth, renewal and re-growth—followed by lots of traffic on Route 27. As a result, we spring into spring projects and the outcome is that to summer visitors and tourists it will appear as if all the gardens magically became lush and perfect.
That said, with daylight hours lengthening and warm weather on the way, now is the time to get your garden in shape. Here is my simple guide that splits up the jobs into the most appropriate months. Weather plays a key role in spring gardening, so use this as a playbook versus a rule book, and follow your instincts to set a gardening schedule that works best for you.
Early Spring (March):
Maintaining your garden should be a year-round affair, but early March is a good time to remove and replace plants and plan your spring and summer garden projects.
In early March, take down any large ornamental grasses that were left for winter drama. With a pruning saw or a strong hand and pruners, cut them down to 10 to 12 inches.
Any late summer or fall blooming shrubs (Hydrangea 'Annabelle' and Callicarpa, for example) can be cut back to 8 to 10 inches if desired. This encourages fresh new growth and keeps size under control. Clematis viticella species and hybrids should be cut back to two buds. Roses can be pruned as the buds begin to swell. Leave the rugosa rose be, but for the rest of the shrub roses, take the main shoots down to an outward-facing bud between 12 and 18 inches. For climbing roses, leave the main canes to grow and be trained, but cut side shoots down to two buds.
At this time of year, plants are beginning to be active and need food. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer before you edge and mulch the gardens, which should be done annually. Feed shrubs, conifer and mixed borders. If you're not sure if you need to fertilize, this is a great time for soil testing.
Pretty up perennials:
Winter can be very messy for a perennial garden. Rake old leaves and clean up old foliage. As fresh new growth begins on evergreen perennials, remove older leaves.
Plant sweet peas and other cool season annuals around St. Patrick's Day and hope for the luck of the Irish.
I'll take a break from the East Hampton gym and get my exercise working in the garden. Then I'll reward myself for a job well done with an updated summer wardrobe from the MARvelously fabulous J. McLaughlin
store in Southampton.
Now it's your turn to create your plan; following it will guarantee spectacular and rewarding results, not just for you but for those who visit your Hampton get-a-way this season, too.
And there you have it.
Mar is an Emmy Nominated TV Host, Lifestyle Expert and best-selling author of "Life On Mar's, A Four Season Garden," that chronicles the evolution of his Westport, Connecticut garden. www.marjennings.com
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