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Like a Virgin

Weather being what it is I am torn in a million directions – mentally and physically. I love it. I hate it. I love it. I hate it. We should not have Zone 7 winters in central Indiana even if our official USDA zone has changed from 5b to 6a.

I’m thinking, what is this weather doing to the plants? I don’t worry too much about the herbaceous stuff, but the woodies could get hammered if it stays too warm then goes back to winter. So far the woodies have shown remarkable restraint on bud development but two days out of three at near 70 degrees this week could cause some to go “Woo Hoo! I’m bustin’ outta this winter dormancy!” Please don’t do that Mr. Tree. But then again, nothing may come of it. Lots of 40s in that long range forecast. And you all know weather forecasts are never wrong.

On the physical side of gardening (much easier than the mental side) it’s high time to get many things cut back and this weather is making it easy to do so. Hellebores are more than ready at this point, of course. You now have to look closely when removing old foliage so you don’t cut off the flowers too. The thing is, the foliage looks great this year. Nothing like a zone 7 winter to make the foliage of evergreen perennials look great. Here’s one of mine at home.

It’s a selection from the fabulous Dick and Judith Tyler of Pine Knot Farms, personally chosen for me by the equally fabulous C. Colston Burrell.

As I said, the foliage looked great but I cut it off anyway to help showcase the blooms.

With the plant so far advanced, it was great to have these gardening shears from Fiskars to reach between the congested stems.

Once hellebores get this big, it is easy to get confused and cut flower stems instead of leaf stems. The long narrow blades of the shears reach between all that vegetation beautifully, making the job much easier. I didn’t cut a single bloom off.

As a matter of full disclosure, Fiskars gave these to us when Garden Writers was here last year. I forecast I’m gonna be using them quite often. They are like kitchen shears for the garden. I never knew I needed kitchen shears until I got a pair. Same I think can be said for these garden shears. Oh, and these come apart just like kitchen shears to clean them easier and better. Hey! I bet sharpening would be easier too. And they are ORANGE!

I also cut back my heuchera foliage. But I forgot to take an “after” picture.

This ‘Caramel’ is getting pretty big so I think I’ll try cutting off some stems and see if I can get them to root. ‘Caramel’ is probably my favorite heuchera in a world with a plethora of gorgeous heucheras.

The Liriope ‘PeeDee Gold Ingot’ got a clip. I forgot to take an “after” picture of it, too.

Plant Delights calls this ‘Peedee Ingot.’ I kind of trust Tony on taxonomy. Regardless of cultivar name, I love this plant. Yellowy chartreuse foliage is great on its own but it also gets purple flowers in late summer. The combination is stunning.

In reference to those last two plants, I was trying to be efficient and take the “before” pictures then do the all the work and then go back and take the “after” pictures. So there was not a lot of stopping and starting. Take a picture. Put down the camera. Pick up the shears, cut back the plant. Put down the shears, pick up the camera. But I wasn’t aware that it was this week’s topic, so I figured I could do it another day and the sun was really bright at the time. If you all ask nicely – nicely, I said – I’ll post them at a later time in another blog.

Back during one of the February warm spells I got ambitious and cut back my Cotinus (smokebush), Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ (paniculata NOT macrophylla), and Sambucus ‘Sutherland’s Gold’ (elderberry). It’s not even JUNE and they are done! I may actually get some of those seeds I bought two years ago planted this year. Now don’t quote me on that. Everything could still fall apart.

It’s only March 2nd.


Why, that is about the same as Spring. It kinda feels like Spring, you know.  And Spring always makes me feel kinda like

Filed under: Horticulture

6 Responses to “Like a Virgin”

  • avatar
    Bonnie Says:

    I am also confused by this winter. I can’t seem to stop planning new flower beds for my tiny yard. I’ve already started tomato and pepper seeds indoors. Yet I feel cheated out of snow and worried about insects this summer. Confused!

  • avatar
    Anonymous Says:

    We’re all confused, Bonnie. And since it is March It’s not really too early to start seeds. Insects may or may not be affected. Enjoy that tiny yard!

  • avatar
    Paul Says:

    What a cut up!


    It surprised me how easy it was to root cuttings from ‘Chocolate Ruffles’ (at least I think that’s what it is) last year. Good stuff for the plant sale this year, unless I leave them in the planter boxes.

    Off, now, to the pile that awaits me and the chipper….

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    Paul, that is good to hear, the rooting of the heuchera (ahem indeed). I need to try a few at least I guess.
    Heading outside this afternoon myself – pruning of Taxus and or Buxus. Maybe some picture taking. I find I am woefully short on all that I need.

  • avatar
    Deb Says:

    Please post after pictures. It would be helpful for those of us who are so-so gardeners. (The spirit is willing, but the thumbs are greenish brown.)

  • avatar
    irvin Says:

    I’ll try to remember, Deb. I actually took the pictures this week so ready for posting.

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