I have been an gardener in the greater Seattle area for 25 years. (Yes, I started young). When I was 10 my grandmother purchased a Queen Elizabeth rose for me. We planted it together, but I was on my own for the pruning. At that point a particular cycle began and it wasn’t until many years later that I realized I’d developed a very bad habit.
I know that people have all sorts of theories and rules concerning when to prune what. I began my career in the green industry at a small retail nursery. I worked with a wonderful rosarian who always said that you should prune your roses on March 15. (You can also plant your Sweet Peas on March 15). It’s a rule that I’ve TRIED to follow. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. However, I have observed through personal experimentation that there are definite merits to waiting until March to prune back some of your more tender plants.
Every February we get a week of extraordinarily beautiful weather. A soft breeze blows through and brings the scent of green and life. As a gardener you can’t help yourself. You go outside with your pruning shears in hand. You tell yourself, ‘It’s too soon. Don’t prune the roses and hydrangeas.’ Every year I do it any way. Then the inevitable happens. A late February or early March freeze comes through and shocks the tender new leaves I’ve encouraged to grow with my presumptuous pruning. I’ve lost Melianthus, Rosemary and Senecio over the years because I run out and cut things back too early.
NOT THIS YEAR! I went out during our nice week of weather right around Valentines Day. I did some transplanting, weeding and raking. I BARELY resisted the urge to prune back the Hydrangeas and Roses. I made notes on what I’m hoping to accomplish in the garden this year rather than reaching for the Felcos.
When the snow started flying last week I rubbed my hands together in glee. I’d finally out waited Mother Nature! I’m excited by the prospect of spring right around the corner. There have been intermittent flurries for the last week, but I see the buds on the Magnolias and the flowers on the Plum trees. Soon it will be time to open the seed packets and scatter around the Nigella and Nasturtium.
My daughter is two and a half years old. I’ve been eagerly looking at packages of tiny gardening tools and gloves. This year Maddy and I are going to incorporate different vegetables into the mixed border in the back yard. She has requested more blue berries and tomatoes. I want to grow salad greens, chard and beets. We’re both anxious to get out and put our hands in delicious, warm soil. For me, this time of year is filled with promise and plans for the garden!