Finally, spring appears - predictions confirmed!

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Silly to get so excited about tiny nubbins of growth? Not this year! 

Dear Janet & Steven
How about that?! You invited us to come prune a wisteria with you this week and we thought, "They're crazy!" But that day was pretty nice, at least what we could see of it looking out from the office window. Did you get that vine pruned? - D.S. -

99% done! It was indeed a very fine day. Cloudy for a brief time, just long enough to make us grateful for the sun and still air. Select "wisteria" from our list below to see the result.

There is plenty to do outdoors even while winter still has a hold. Check it out:

Spring signs
Wisteria pruning
Cutting out winter-kill from evergreens and shrubs
Un-doing rabbits' damage to shrubs
Why snowshoes are part of our tool kit
Fertilizer figures
Breaking in new boots and bods
Instant answers 

Pardon our dust. We're just posting the photos today.

Admiring spring

Janet basically threw herself on the ground last weekend to admire a daffodil about 3/8-inch out of the ground. Don't get so carried away as she did but don't miss the show, either. It's going to come very fast, now that some plants are a month behind... plants that make a habit of leaping out of the ground even in a normal year. Take a look at some beautiful spring signs.

Wisteria pruning

Four of us tackled four wisteria vines that had accumulated excess wood a little at a time over their 20 year reign. We sorted out the main trunks, sawed off branches that had strayed beyond bounds, and clipped off thin unbranched vines (they lacked flower buds; their contribution this spring would have been to obscure the blooms with their emerging foliage). We took off enough wood to pack a pick-up truck twice over and called it a day. Look and learn.

Cutting to remove winter damage

Where you see damage, better to prune sooner than later. How to know what's damaged, how much to cut when you find it. We use evergreen holly (Ilex x meserveae) as an example.

In this section: A woo-hoo for plants that beat the odds and suffered no damage, 'though we expected the worst: Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) and Ural false spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia).

When wascally wabbits beat us to the punch

Danged rabbits! We'd planned to reduce the size of these shrubs anyway, but had to cut back even harder than we wanted. See it, and be prepared.

Snowshoes save the day

We have to stay off the wet ground, since our tread there is enough to ruin soil condition for years. Yet the work has to get done and there are just so many days available. We can place planks and walk there but snowshoes allow so much more freedom of movement, and might spread our weight even better than a boardwalk. No kidding, take a look.

Buying fertilizer

It's just about time to spread slow release organic materials on beds so they'll be there for fungi, bacteria and other living things in the soil to consume them as things warm up. That will change the nutrients into forms the plants can absorb and put to good use during spring's growth surge. If you're like most people, you'll buy too little and fail to spread it generously enough. Check our chart!

Breaking in new boots, and breaking back into action

Whether you go out to rake, pick up sticks, clean up after the pets or prune out what winter killed, treat your own self like we're treating our new boots. Take it a little at a time and as soon as you can feel the strain, take a break! More about this.

Instant answers: Learning, advising in 140-character bits

On Saturday, April 26 from 10 to 3 we'll be providing instant answers on our Forum. We hope you will come help, or spread the word to those who want answers right away to yard work mysteries such as, "What is this?!" "Can I cut this down?" and "Is this a weed, or what?" All the details.