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It’s late January in case you hadn’t noticed. The days are getting a little longer and there’s a wee bit more sun. Time to prune!

It's no mystery why grasses need to be cut back this time of year. They've been hammered by wind, rain, a little snow and ice.

It’s no mystery why grasses need to be cut back this time of year. They’ve been hammered by wind, rain, a little snow and ice.

I’ve already begun with hellebores, which if I don’t clip off the old leaves, the new flowers will have a rather dismal looking skirt. Once I’ve finished with the hellebores (they are in multiple locations in my garden and I probably have at least 40 of them), I’ll begin to cut back the grasses. There are many of those, too. I’ll probably cut back the evergreen ferns…especially the sword ferns…as I cut back the grasses. Then there is always the issue of clearing all of the piles of clippings during the process. Clean up as you go if you can.

Worn leaves on hellebores detract from their flowers. So cut them off now. You'll be rewarded with a fresh flush of new growth after flowering.

Worn leaves on hellebores detract from their flowers. So cut them off now. You’ll be rewarded with a fresh flush of new growth after flowering.

I will also prune or even remove the Betula youngii that I’ve had in place for so many years. When I planted it I didn’t look up how big it would get. That would be de rigueur for me today. I recall seeing a mature specimen at the Blodel Reserve, further north in WA State. It was quite large. This is when I knew that eventually I’d be in trouble. So several years ago I planted a Viburnum which will get to around 8′ tall and have been allowing it to get larger every year at the edge and a little beneath the tree. Now it’s large enough that if I remove the tree, the Viburnum will shade the plants that the tree has shaded. It will also not shade the Puritan rose a little farther away which means it will perform better, too.

Yes, it’s mid-winter and the livin’ ain’t easy. But summer will come and there will be those magical days that I so enjoy outdoors. And maybe I’ll have a little more time to sit in the garden and enjoy it.

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