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Column: Early spring brings gardening body aches

Spring has definitely arrived in our neck of the woods.
magnolia flower
Magnolia in bloom

Spring has definitely arrived in our neck of the woods. My body is hurting in places that I did not know I have muscles!

I am delighted to see lady bugs and honey bees warming up their winter-chilled bodies in a sunny patch of the garden while up to my elbows in dirt.

Frequent sunny days provide us with the opportunity to increase our range of garden tasks. It is time to get busy preparing our garden beds for planting, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.

This is a great time to get rid of pests in your garden beds. I was tossing snails and slugs while recently gardening in Paulik Park, a City of Richmond park adopted by the Richmond Garden Club in 2008.

We can now plant summer-flowering bulbs. Get your pitchforks out to lift and divide your overgrown clumps of perennials. This is a great time to lightly clear away all those leaves you placed on your garden beds. Top dress your gardens (including your containers) with fresh compost. 

Paulik Park has some patches of overgrown Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) that delighted us with winter colour. We got in with our pruning tools to lighten up the area. You can use some of the colourful branches that you have pruned in your spring container displays. Remember to let the branches die before using them in a container display as they can easily start growing again, especially dogwood. We removed lime green and brilliant red branches of dogwood that would add so much colour to even some of your winter flower container pots.

My aching, but happy body is telling me to remind all of us to make sure we do some stretching before we tackle all of our spring chores! Lots of stretching before gardening will help relieve the potential for stiff muscles or back problems after a day of gardening. Sharpening your tools will also help make your work easier.

On rainy days, spend some time with your favourite gardening magazines and put a plan to paper of any changes in landscape design you would like to tackle this year. I love to wander around our home gardens and decide which plants need to be divided or moved to a better location. I also determine what new plants I will purchase to improve my design.
Despite my body aches, this is probably the most exciting time of the year as a gardener. Time to get outside and get growing!

Lynda Pasacreta is the current president of the Richmond Garden Club. For more information, visit Mark your calendars to attend our annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale, May 12, 2018, South Arm United Church parking lot, 3 Road and Steveston Highway, 9am to 2pm. 

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