A Note From Rick | Late Winter is Full of Promise!

March 10, 2023

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Late winter is full of promise.

In addition to the tracery of branches silhouetted against the sky, the green of conifers and hollies, and the backlit parchment of grasses and beech leaves, we can also start enjoying the emerging green of daffodils and the flowers of early crocus and other early-blooming bulbs.


Purple crocus tomasinianus

This year, there is an abundance of early blooms at Bridge Gardens. Winter jasmine, squirrel-proof Crocus tomasinianus (aka Tommies), hellebores and hazelnuts all seem extra early. As are the witch hazels, which have been in bloom off and on for a while. Except for the vernal witch hazels, none of these plants are native, but they’ll soon be followed by native spring bloomers like columbine, Virginia bluebells and American ginger.



In gardens, late winter is a great time to get a jump on spring. We like to edge and mulch beds now and finish up pruning and clean-up. We don’t edge and mulch every bed every year. Usually it’s about every third year. We’re trying to be less neat in the garden or neat only in certain areas at certain times. Last year’s leaves are often left and even stored in some beds and under shrubs that will hide them once leafed-out. We sometimes sprinkle a thin layer of bark mulch over leaves to hide them and encourage decomposition.


Edging and mulching of community garden beds

Soil temperature in the vegetable gardens is still wintry, but it won’t be long until it’s warm enough this month to plant arugula, Asian greens, spinach, kale and radish. I’m looking forward to uncovering the overwintered spinach and soon the season’s first crop. Toward the end of the month, we’ll also un-mulch the roses in the rose garden and get them ready for their first pruning and fertilizing in April.

If you start seeds indoors, it’s still early for tomatoes and other summer crops, but the right time to start artichokes and radicchio. They need to mature in the relative coolness of late spring, before the heat of summer sets in. For seeding tips, take time to view a video we made last year on starting seeds, available here and on the Trust’s blog.

A couple locations in Bridge Gardens capture the heat of the late winter sun and are great for basking in the low-angle light. I hope you’ll make time soon to visit, seek them out, and enjoy the beauty of late winter.

~~ Rick

P. S. Keep feeding the birds during late winter and early spring. Wild foods are scarce this time of year, so seed and suet can help provide much-needed nutrition at the beginning of nesting season.

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