Spring is here and now we are looking for those April showers that will bring May flowers and save us the trouble of watering our plants. There are a few clouds this afternoon, maybe we'll get lucky. If you have irrigation it is a good idea to test the system for leaks, adjust the heads so they are not watering the sidewalk, and check the run time so it does not allow runoff. Water conservation is everyone's responsibility.
Here at Daniel Stowe we are cleaning up, pruning back and enjoying the cool weather and colorful garden while we work. It is important to get ahead of those late winter/early spring weeds. Henbit and chickweed are the most common and pulling them before they have a chance to set seed will save time later. Prune spring flowering shrubs as soon as they are done blooming, this includes forsythia, spirea, quince, cherrylaurel and azaleas. Now that leaves are out we can remove any winter damaged branches and cut back the fig tree by one third. If you have naturalized daffodils it is important to leave the foliage alone (no knot tying) until it turns brown. These leaves are feeding next year's bulb. If they are trying to produce seed it is OK to trim off the very tip so energy is not wasted on seed production.
Finally, there is a fragrant flowering, silver leaved shrub in bloom in the woods right now that merits our attention. This is Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) also known as Silver Berry and Wild Olive. While it has long been cultivated in Europe and sometimes used along highways here (as is it's cousin Autumn Olive) we should be on our guard.It has invaded the piedmont woodlands and is as thick as privet in many locations. Make it's removal part of your spring cleaning in the garden this year.