low-growing plants at base of tree

Getting Ready for Spring Gardening

After this Texas tarragon (aka Mexican mint marigold) finished blooming last fall, it spread seeds all over my garden. One of my spring tasks will be to dig up the volunteer plants and group them where they are needed most.

It happens every year. As the chilly days of February pass by, I start to keep a lookout for signs. It may be the sound of a cardinal staking out his nesting territory. Or it might be the slow but sure emergence of new growth on my perennial herbs. Bit by bit, the clues gather and suddenly I know spring is just around the corner.

Spring – the beginning of a garden year. Once again I find myself feeling the urge to plot and plan for the perfect garden I just know I can create this year. Time for me to create….

The List

I confess to being one of those habitually organized persons. There isn’t a part of my life that hasn’t been reduced to a list at some point. Gardening is no exception. You might think this stifles any urge I have for creativity but I assure you that doesn’t happen. Here’s how creativity and organization work together to give me a productive – and fun – spring garden.

Every year on my spring gardening list, I include perennials, such as this Berggarten sage, that need dividing. After transplanting, it will be a fuller, healthier sage plant.

I begin by donning my coat and mud boots (it’s still chilly and damp, after all) and grabbing a steno pad and pen. Then I go out and survey my gardens, section by section. For each portion I take a hard look at what’s there, remembering how it looked last summer, and jotting down notes of what I would like to do in the coming months. Each year the list is different. Here are a few things on my 2018 list:

Dealing With Duds – Not every plant works out in my garden. Last year I received a couple of new roses to trial. One is worth keeping but the other turned out to be a complete dud. It’s going out.

Fixing Mistakes – Several years ago, when in a rush, I planted low-growing rain lilies in the back of a flower bed. Ever since, when they bloom I’m embarrassed to see them nearly hidden behind taller plants. This year they’re moving to the front of the bed where I and the rest of the world can enjoy them.

Dividing Perennials – Several perennial herbs need revitalizing by lifting and dividing them. Not only will that give me healthy herbs but it will let me fill in the bare spots that always seem to emerge.

This wonderful bay laurel died last year leaving a huge gap in my south-facing garden. The full-sun location will be perfect for planting lavender.

Filling In an Empty Spot – After a decade of robust growth, my bay laurel tree gave up the ghost last spring. Now I have an empty spot in my south-facing garden that is perfect for a cluster of lavender bushes.

Planting in a Problem Corner – I’ve got a shady corner with nothing growing. Looks like a good place to add some canna lilies. They will be a nice contrast to the bearded iris bed in front.

Once I’m finished with my garden bed survey, I take my list and type it up on my computer. Each task is grouped together with others in the same garden bed. I try to break things down into bite-sized chunks. This allows me to take advantage of a spare half hour (it sometimes happens, trust me) and get one of my garden jobs done.

Then I post the printed list on the kitchen fridge. This helps to ensure I see the list regularly and take steps to make it all happen. For each task completed, I draw a line through the item on the list. Slowly but surely, the plans I made in February will become reality by Memorial Day.

So what about you? Got a thing or two to get done out in the garden?


Ann McCormick
Ann McCormick, Southwest Gardening contributor

If you enjoy herbs and organic gardening, you’ll want to meet Ann McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl. A life-long gardener, she has devoted her time for the last 20 years to writing and speaking about her favorite subject. The Herb ‘n Cowgirl also shares her love of herbs and her gardening techniques as a speaker and media guest. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband of 37 years and an assortment of dogs. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at www.herbncowgirl.com.

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