I’m getting less relief from spring fever by staring at my terrarium and silk flower arrangements. I’ve thought about setting up my lawn chair inside Faddegon’s Nursery’s (www.faddegons.com) lush greenhouse filled with orchids, tropicals and houseplants but I’m afraid I’d be asked to leave, especially after unwrapping my open-faced Limberger, liverwurst and onion sandwich. I could always sit next to the flowering Imperial Fritillaria bulbs that smell like skunk and see if that helps me blend in better.

To distract myself, I’ll continue sharing spring tips for creating masterpiece gardens.

April and May are terrific months to take a no-nonsense attitude towards many perennials that have overstepped their bounds. Thuggish perennials can swarm their neighbors, resulting in messy looking beds as well as lackluster flowering from too many roots per square foot competing for limited nutrients and water.  Why does Black Friday come to mind? A majority of perennials (summer and fall bloomers) can be divided in spring after plants poke their heads above ground. By whacking them now, gifting or transplanting large sections elsewhere, and applying a fresh mulch to cover your tracks, you will create a lovely, tidy garden.  And so you won’t fret about the possibility of fewer flowers after downsizing clumps, sprinkle some Plant-Tone (a time-released, organic fertilizer) in each hole when replanting divisions. This will supplement the bloom pump for three to four months, super-sizing the floral display. If the thought of ‘plant purging’ bothers you, think of how wonderful it looks after you’ve tidied up your teenager’s room and everything is in its place. There is a floor after all!

Another simple way to give gardens a seasonal facelift is to get an edge on them now, literally! A neat garden edge is like a beautiful frame enclosing a picture. It finishes the look. Edging defines a garden. Popular edging choices include stone, wood, aluminum, steel and brick. Plastic bender board is relatively new and is made from recycled or engineered plastic. It is more flexible than aluminum or steel and is available in brown, black or green. Strips can be anywhere from 16” to 20’ long. Before selecting edging, consider if you want it to be flush with the ground (so a lawnmower’s wheels can glide along its surface) or raised (requiring a weedwacker to finish the job). You could also go ‘au natural’ – nothing between grass and garden except a clean sliced edge. If you vote for this approach, save your back with one of the great lawn and garden edgers available. Sometimes called a sod cutter, the heavy duty machine rolls on four wheels and encloses an adjustable steel blade. It’s easy to push along a bed and makes a noticeably different cut than lighter weight edgers. Troy-Bilt and MTD are two manufacturers.

Kerry Ann Mendez is a lecturer, designer, writer, consultant, and the owner of Perennially Yours, a business specializing in low-maintenance perennial gardening and landscaping. Mendez also published two top-selling gardening books: The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists: 70 Garden-Transforming Lists, Money Saving Shortcuts, Design Tips & Smart Plant Picks for Zones 3 Through 7 and Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens: Seeing Your Way Out of the Dark: 52 Garden-Transforming Lists, Money-Saving Shortcuts, Design Tips & Smart Plant Picks for Zones 3 Through 7.

by Kerry Mendez

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Diane Cox

I love you two.. I am a 72 year old grandmother and a farmers wife of 45 years! I read everything you post . I also have a huge pottery bowl in my bathroom of every soap you make…..everyone teases me….who needs that much soap! Yes I do. Your love of animals and nature and each other……you are two amazing men. I will continue to follow your lives. Thank you for sharing your story. Love, Diane