Getting Ready to Get Ready for Spring

I had been planning to take one Monday after the forsythia blooms and stay home to do some pruning and general gardening. After I thought about it, though, there’s plenty of things I need to get done before the forsythia blooms: ordering moo poo tea (done!) and a pruning saw (done!), sharpening my tools, cleaning up after the snow melts, planning any transplants or removals (like the lambsear), and pruning the forsythia!

Alas, I didn’t get any photos of the forsythia in bloom last year — we moved into the house in late March, and I was so taken by all the bulbs and plants closer to the house that I quite neglected the front fence until mid-May. I do recall that it was in full bloom for a few weeks, but was looking gangly and uneven, with a couple of disproportionately long canes sticking out of it.

With my references as, Flower Gardening Made Easy, and this super-helpful article on pruning from Virginia Cooperative Extension, I thought it might be a good idea if I make some notes for myself about what I plan to do to my healthy-but-unruly forsythia.

  1. Cut back two or three big, old canes. These will be the larger, woodier, darker-colored ones. Use the pruning saw, and cut them right down to the ground.
  2. Remove dead canes. These may be lighter and have bark flaking off of them.
  3. Remove the tallest canes — the ones that are sticking out and making the bush look unkempt.
  4. Remove any canes that are drooping close to the ground. Forsythia propagate via runners, so any canes that touch the ground may put out a new plant… and I’m not thinking I want a hedge of forsythia along the front fence.
  5. Cut back any canes that are rubbing against other canes, or growing toward the interior of the bush instead of outward. These can be thinned out with a thinning cut, rather than cut to the ground.

Jeez. I wonder if I’m going to have any forsythia left after all that.

Amur Honeysuckle, May 2013

I’m also going to do something similar to my honeysuckle, rather than the rejuvenation pruning I’d originally planned. The Missouri Department of Conservation also has a helpful article on controlling honeysuckle. Looks like my Round-Up will get used on not only the invasive maypop vine, but also the honeysuckle seedlings that keep popping up here and there (thanks, birdies, for spreading those around).

I’m no longer sure when to plan this late winter / early spring cleanup, since our temps are currently a good 20F below the climatological averages. I guess I’ll just wait for a solid week of highs in the mid to upper 40’s, then go for it.

Oh, for temps in the 40’s…

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