Learn about Cherrie Carine’s spring garden routine in Massachusetts. Winter’s may be hard and long in the East, but any weeding work you do will uncover the colorful bulbs and Spring perennials allowing them to thrive and bloom! What we all wait for. . Come see what chases Cherries winter doldrums away. Anticipation is a gardener’s joy
Cherrie tells us the story of her Spring garden transformation. “Winters are long here in South Eastern Massachusetts so it is always exciting to see the snow melt and the first blooms of Spring emerge. My town is Norton, Mass. it is located twenty-five miles west of Cape Cod, thirty miles south of Boston and twenty-eight miles north of Providence, Rhode Island….a perfect location! Wouldn’t live anywhere else…”
“The first blooms to show are the Snowdrops. They will actually break through the ice and snow and frozen ground…
We clean all the gardens in Fall, but any Winter debris has to be picked up in Spring.. As soon as ground thaws I start changing beds around, weed, divide plants, and put down compost.”
“I built these stone walls when I was young…I used a refrigerator cart to move them around…don’t have the strength to do that now, but so happy I built them when I could…this wall is directly in front of my house…
This week, I worked some on cleaning the gardens…I don’t realize how many gardens I have until the cleaning and weeding has to be done!…snow predicted for tomorrow…hoping it stays out to sea ! Daffodils are due to bloom, but cold and snow will delay them… When blooming starts, I will be able to see what plants need to be divided…the work is never done!”
May apples, Podophyllum peltatum, are sometimes called “umbrella plant” because the first sign of it in early spring is a shoot looking like a closed umbrella. When this shoot reaches about a foot tall, the “umbrella” slowly unfolds until it reaches about a foot across. Plants with two leaves will have one blossom at the fork where the leaves join the stem, but plants with one leaf are immature and will not bloom.
The nodding white flower, sometimes two inches across, has six to nine petals and twice as many yellow stamens. The root, leaves and stem are poisonous. The ripe fruit, or apple (it is really a berry) can be eaten but it is rather insipid.
Mayapple is an easy-to-grow perennial and can quickly crowd out weaker plants. Large colonies develop from long, creeping rhizomes. Plant in rich, moist woods, preferably in the fall. Perennial, Zones 3 to 8
Cherrie says, “I check photos from the previous year to see where color may be lacking or where garden changes are to be made.. It is usually the first week in March that color starts showing…the Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinth and Scilla and Grape Hyacinth.”
Daffodils can be planted without considering water as they never need water unless in a container in a very dry climate. Planting them along paths in your garden gives you a reason to walk through your garden in February and March to search them out. .
Bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis
It’s easy to see the origin of bleeding heart’s common name when you get a look at its heart-shape pink or white blooms with a protruding tip at the base of the heart. To grow bleeding heart, plant them in partial to full shade in moist, well-drained soil. Some types of bleeding heart bloom only in spring and others bloom spring, summer, and fall, provided temperatures aren’t too high. Perennial, Zones 3-9
“Tulips come later if the deer haven’t eaten them all…then the flourish of flowering Azalea, Rhododendrons, Red Bud trees, and Flowering fruit trees happens. Moss Phlox, Bleeding hearts, Solomon Seal and so many others emerge and bloom.”
Tall Garden Phlox, Phlox paniculata, is an old-fashioned favorite! Gardens, both old and new, can benefit from their brilliant colors during the summer months. Compact plants with upright growth habit and clusters of flowers atop tall stems. Plant in full sun in areas with good air circulation to prevent mildew. Perennial, Zones 4-8
Adding Flea Market Style
Cherrie says, “I’m taking all of my garden adornments out of storage and placing them around the property…all the rusty junk and treasures that make the garden mine! Each piece has a story and a memory!”
“These treasures are in my potting shed, barn, barn attic, stone house, and my sun porch for Winter… takes me all Summer to bring them out a few at a time and then all fall to put them away….husband swears I am crazy!”
Tip: The vegetable garden is never planted until May 31st, my grandfather’s wisdom!
“I have access to very large rocks on my farm and I use them a lot for background planting. They are a nice contrast between the hard rock surface and bland colors, and the soft, colorful textures of the flowers….”
“This is my natural container…an old slab of granite planted with pink Catchfly.”
Sweet William Catchfly, Silene armeria
Native to Europe, it has escaped gardens and naturalized in eastern and central North America, as well as the Pacific Northwest. It’s vivid dark pink flower clusters beautify the garden from Spring to late summer. It is a herbaceous perennial most often grown as an annual, as it readily propagates from seed. Provide full sun to part shade and dry to medium, well-drained soil that is preferably sandy or gravelly. Plants do not do well in hot and humid summers. Self-sows easily, or sow seeds where they are to grow in spring or summer. Perennial, Zones 5-8
“The toil and work comes first,” Cherrie tell us, “but after comes all the satisfaction and delight of seeing what nature has given us.. It is special to witness the rebirth of Spring and find comfort that all is right in our little world …that is why I garden…”
“Happy Spring to all!
Expecting snow here today..
But at least Winter is behind us!
Bring on the warmth, the green,
And the sweet fragrance of flowers.”
~~ Cherrie Carine