April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
What's a gardener to do with such weather? It's confusing for us, and for our plants, too. Many things are still soundly sleeping, being later at breaking dormancy so they run no risk of damage from the fluctuating weather. I have a pile of evergreen boughs which I've been keeping over things like the hellebores and epimedium, but I have begun some garden cleanup on warm, not so windy days.
I've been cutting the dried stalks of perennials and piling them here and there for moving later to my disposal site. I've pulled some weeds, too, mostly couchgrass and some of the biennials like willow herb, plus the ever-creeping ground ivy. I've done the winter-damage pruning, which is to remove damaged limbs from shrubs, and given the rugosa roses all a vigourous cutting back.
Despite the weather fluctuations, there are very obvious signs of spring being here in earnest, even if it's a little on the cool side. My horse is shedding in earnest, and I just watched him and the ancient donkey playing a game of Silly-Buggers, in which they chased each other around with a lot of snorting, bucking, galloping and head shaking.
The goldfinches have begun to change to their courting colours too, and the fox sparrows, grackles, robins and redwings are back in great numbers. I must say that although I love and feed birds, I'm not what you'd call a birding expert. I kept wondering where the female redwinged blackbirds were, til I realized I was mistaking them for fox sparrows. We have both, and now that I've studied up I see the difference, but...oh well. I suppose a decree asking all birds to wear nametags wouldn't work awfully well.
I do wonder why it is that goutweed (ground elder, bishops weed, Aegopodium) is not phased by cold weather, frost, salt, or deer. That just seems so unfair, don't you think?