A week ago I had a large quantity of hardwood mulch delivered to our driveway. I immediately set out to distribute it, one garden cart at a time, around the shrubs in the front and down the sides of the house, before finally bringing the bulk of it to the back where the garden lies. Each day since, as I loaded the mulch into the cart, frequent drifts of lemony fragrance from the nearby Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne) made me happy and content to be outside.
I hoped this job would take just a few days, but secretly estimated it might take a full week. The front and sides are complete. With merely scant work done in the main garden, the project has now gone into serious overtime, but I am enjoying each moment.
The side path down which I am carting the mulch into the main garden is tricky. Not well designed for a bulky cart, its slow meander is better suited for viewing Lychnis coronaria and lavender in spring and echinacea and rudbeckia and Perovskia atriplicifolia in summer.
Once lined with shrubs such as Sky Pencil and Wintergreen boxwood that succumbed to drought years ago, this side garden is a hodgepodge of plants. During winter it receives very little sunlight but in summer it gets strong, hot sun
As I put down mulch I am also doing some trimming, thinning and putting things in order. I usually forget to prune the ‘Jackmanii’ Clematis, so am trying to include tasks like that in this mulching project.
I saved for another day the job of cutting back the Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass), but cleaned up many plants, including Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) and Canna.
A patch of daffodils instantly looked better after mulching. There were signs of new growth from the Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ and more daffodils are emerging.
A section of stepping stones that lead through the gate were reconfigured, an adjustment that took several hours. During that time no mulch was being moved, but I was able to salvage some stones for another project.
All the while as I worked in this area, the minty scent of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) kept me company.
On the opposite side of the house, our property is just a very narrow strip where buried gas and electric utility lines run. There are few plantings along this side, but new mulch has helped improve the look. Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and an attractive but weedy ground cover, Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed), green it during summer.
Last week while mulching there I discovered the first open flower of the winter camellia, Camellia ‘Coral Delight.’ A group of Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose) brightens up that spot as well.
As for the main garden, there remains much work to be done. I have created several piles of mulch back there. This helped reduce the size of the mulch pile in the driveway and by Sunday night I was able to move the car back into the garage. (Bluebirds spent a great deal of time on the car last week.)
Over the week I put in one 8-hour day, but averaged 4-5 hours most days. It was cooler and more overcast than expected, but never was I uncomfortable.
A friend in the neighborhood volunteered a couple of hours of her time. She brought another cart and loaded one while I carried the other to the back garden, which was a huge contribution.
Most neighbors walking by the front of our house though were astonished, often helpfully suggesting I should hire someone to help.
Even putting cost aside, no one else has a special relationship with this little piece of earth, nor would know to be careful of the little wonders tucked away in various spots. The benefits are overwhelming for doing this task myself.
Purchasing the mulch forced me outside after too many days of lingering inside this winter. Moving mulch last week I was so content being outdoors working in the garden, it never seemed like work all.
Last week’s weather forecasts of sunny, mild days held true for only a couple of days last week. Most nights were below freezing and it took a while to warm up each day enough for me to want to be outside. Just before the Northeast U.S. had several feet of snow, the storm brought an inch of rain here, leaving the garden too wet to work for a time.
Rain fell overnight and continued through this morning. Today’s high will 61F. It will be slightly warmer this week, but overcast, then raining again by midweek. The forecast for this week does not portend well, but forecasts can change.