Old concrete patio with pile of old sandstone waiting to be installed.

The world as we’ve known it has changed radically overnight. Social distancing is now the norm and fear is pervasive. Retail, except for essential services, is closed. Hopefully, garden centers will be allowed to remain open because we need their supplies. Travel plans are probably postponed but it’s a great opportunity to focus on your yard and transform your own environment into an oasis that you and your family will enjoy.

Bulbs between cut back Miscanthus

Mini scythe

Gardening has always been a form of mental therapy and is needed now more than ever. I have found that, when working in the garden, all my concentration is on the work at hand. If I’m pruning, as I was this morning, how far back shall I go? Above which bud should I cut? If I’m scything down ornamental grasses, how far down shall I go? Miscanthus is a warm season grass but as I was cutting it down, I found that it has already started to foliate so I was, inevitably, cutting off the tips of new growth as well the new foliage and stems. TIP: If you need a mini-scythe, I have them in stock for $12.96. I can put the invoice and the scythe in the pink basket on my side door and you can pick up when convenient.

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ before pruning

Before long, you will be sorely tempted to prune your hydrangeas but the only pruning you can do right now is cutting off the dead panicles from last year. I would wait until early April at least to do any more hydrangea pruning. If you don’t know which hydrangeas you have (very important knowledge – the pruning timing will differ with the species), I suggest reading some advice from the National Gardening Bureau at https://ngb.org/2020/03/05/hydrangea-pruning/. It is excellent.

Because winter was so warm, everything is happening sooner than usual. I’ve kept a gardening journal for years and looked back to last year to see when my Celebration Maple started unfurling its leaves. It wasn’t until the first week of April. This year? Now!

Leucojum aestivum

I’ve had Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ (Summer Snowflake – so misnamed; it always blooms in spring) in my garden for twenty years. It used to start blooming in early May. Over the years, it has bloomed earlier and earlier, but this is ridiculous. It’s blooming now.

Helleborus ‘Frostkiss Molly’s White’

Virtually all my hellebores are in bloom. Most Helleborus orientalis have pink flowers and after a few years, they seed prolifically. Now, I actually also have some white sports. Plant junkie that I am, I have acquired cultivars with purple, red, or yellow flowers. Last summer, I talked to a sales rep, in one of the trade show booths at the PPA Symposium, about a new series of hellebores that have variegated foliage. He was kind enough to send me some samples that are in bloom in my garden right now. ‘Frostkiss Molly’s White’ has white flowers that will light up any shady spot and the foliage keeps the area interesting even after the flowers are spent. Some are going into a client’s garden but I do have nine extra ones in one gallon pots. If you are interested, they are $10.


Naturally, weeds are up and spreading already. I highly recommend using a hori (Japanese digging knife) rather than a trowel because it’s use is easier on your wrist and elbow. TIP: I also have these in stock for $32.40. Once you’ve weeded, think about improving your soil by adding organic matter such as compost. If you haven’t been composting, Gali’s in Shaker Heights carries 1.5CF bags of Organic Valley Garden Soil for $8.99. It’s a combination of composted materials, crushed limestone, and fertilizer.

When your loved ones, with whom you are now cooped up, start driving you crazy, grab your tools and get into your garden.