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Spring garden preparations: tree pruning, seed sowing, and butterfly garden planting

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Spring is a time to start thinking about planting again. Gardening offers us a rich feeling of accomplishment brought about by participating with the earth’s cycles of life, decay, and renewal. Perhaps nowhere else is that cycle more visceral than in the metamorphosis of a butterfly, so I always make sure to grow plants that attract them in each cycle of their development. I want a front row seat to all that awe! So I take some time today to begin planting summer flowers that will provide them with nectar sources and keep them coming into my garden.

The signs of spring are unmistakable. The early yellow flowers of Forsythia signal the resurgence of sap in the surrounding trees as they put out flowering buds. My camellia always puts on a late winter show along the driveway and provides a cheerful welcome home all month long.

Source Image: Pexels

I also take time to enjoy the many daffodils emerging. Some of them were hidden under a shrub, so I cut them to bring indoors. They are a bit ragged, but when bundled together, they make a cheerful bouquet that I can enjoy at the kitchen window.

Our beloved red maple tree needs lower branch pruning, and so that becomes the main garden task for today. The deciduous trees need to be pruned by late winter while they're still dormant and we have barely made the window. We haul the branches to the street for our county's composting program and save the rest of the lime wood for the very best firewood.

The pressure treated finial I ordered for the obelisk has come in, so I take time today to install and stain it. Each day I sow another mini greenhouse of seeds. I am transitioning now to sowing summer seed crops such as peppers and tomatoes. I always sow more pepper seeds than the packet suggests as many may not germinate. I organize my summer seed-box with the new seeds that have come in the mail. I feel the excitement rising as I anticipate growing crops new and old. It is like welcoming back old friends.

The lettuce seed I sowed in a mini greenhouse two weeks ago is looking healthy and strong. It will be ready for transplanting into the garden in about another week. The temperature today has now reached 50 degrees, so I pull back the plastic from the greenhouse bed to expose the fabric cover I have added. This will allow venting but protect the soil from creatures who want to either eat the seed or dig in the soft soil. Seedling growth is slower here compared to the mini greenhouses, but still faster than without cover.

During a recent shopping trip to Costco, I notice that their summer bulbs have returned. This is a great deal for large quantities, and I pick up a bag for my butterfly garden. Liatris corms are small bulbs that have started to swell with growth. They should be planted in full sun, six inches apart and two inches. Liatris is a favorite nectar source for butterflies.

I plant the corms in groupings of five to six in scattered places throughout the garden. I also plant several around my mailbox to visually connect that space to the rest of the garden. The flower stalks tend to fall over if grown in rich soil so do not over feed. In total, I planted about 80 corms, and it only took about 20 minutes. This front yard garden will become a butterfly haven this summer with these liatris combined with annuals such as zinnias, parsley, dill, fennel, and alyssum.

Now that the corms have been planted, I'm looking forward to their summer blooms . and will be sowing seeds for more plants that wil provide for the butterflies that will be soon visiting my garden. It's such a thrill to see monarch butterflies fueling themselves in my garden on their epic journey!!

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