Clean-Up After the Ice Storm

Finally – Spring! Hopefully you won’t have as much clean-up to do this spring as we do here in Ontario. The December ice storm devastated several of our trees and left a mass of broken branches and debris everywhere. Fortunately, we didn’t lose any specimen plants and most of our trees can be salvaged with a lot of creative pruning.

2014. Ice Storm Devestation #1


4102Our grandsons came to stay with us during the clean-up time and helped us with the mess. Their mum had bought them rope to do with as they pleased in the forest after they helped, so they decided they would tie it as a safety rope across the river where a large tree had fallen, creating a perfect bridge!


After we spent over a week cleaning up the fallen branches (aka ‘progging’), I finally took stock of the gardens. I was overjoyed to see that my Lenten Rose had survived the extremely long winter and exceptionally cold temperatures this year. This is not my own Lenten Rose. You can see more of The Shire photos on our website at: Here, I wanted you to see a professional photo of how beautiful the Lenten Rose truly is. The leaves are green under the covering of snow and, before the thaw, these magnificent blooms reach out from the snow to greet you with the promise of spring.

Lenten Rose

Every year we have an invasion of those plants we love but can’t control. We’re currently battling a sea of Bugleweed in the clearing, and the plant I really hate to love; Lily of the Valley. The clusters are so beautiful in spring when the shaded wood lot is mostly dormant, but the plant is so invasive if you don’t want it to spread.

One way to rein in the offending invaders is to plant them in container insert pots and bury the pot flush with the soil surface. Make sure the pot has holes for drainage and water retention within the garden. This will hold back plants which multiply by tubers or spreading roots. You can divide them in spring if the pot becomes crowded or move them to a bigger pot. These plants are great as fast-growing groundcover, but will overtake an area quickly if not kept in check.


Two of my favourite ground covers are the English Bluebell and the Forget-Me-Not.  Every year I split these after they bloom and fill in bare spots at the woodland edge. They self-seed and are very hardy. The following year I’m blessed to see they’ve usually doubled in number.


When your spring bulbs have finished blooming, here’s a tip for next spring:

Take your bulbs and plant them either directly in the garden using the layering method, or plant them in a container and place the container in the ground to over-winter the bulbs. In spring, take the container out of the ground if you choose as soon as the ground thaws, and water thoroughly; or leave the container in the garden until the blooms are all spent. This will give you a continuous show of colour next spring and you’ll find that the bulbs will multiply for you to expand your collection or share with friends. They make wonderful gifts.

Spring layer planting

Place approximately 2” of potting soil in the container. Layer your bulbs starting with the largest ones which need to be planted deepest. Put 1” of soil on top of them then your medium-sized bulbs, being careful not to place them directly above the first bulbs. 1” of soil covering these then your smallest bulbs above them. Cover the top layer of bulbs with 2-3” of soil to the rim of the pot and pack down lightly.

I like to use crocus, tulips and daffodil.

I hope you’re enjoying the much-anticipated warmer weather if you’re in spring time where you live. We had a harsh five months of arduous temperatures here, so we’re happy to finally don short sleeves and sandals. If you’re somewhere in winter right now, well, God Bless you. I’m really happy I’m not where you are.

Blessings from The White Rose Shire,



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