Here in the Northern Virginia area we moved from Spring into Summer with a vengeance this year. It went from wet and mild, to dry and hot! More than 100 degrees today, and last week as well.
That means it is time to clean up the remains of Spring — deadheading iris, azaleas, rhododendron, clearing out old bulb foliage which is now brown, and I like to clean up the lilly foliage as well before it starts to bloom.
When the temperature goes back down a little, I will also start some pruning. The boxwoods have growing quite huge this year. Each spring I prune about 1/4 of the branches out. This keeps a beautiful shape, and encourages lots of growth throughout the plant. The same with the azaleas and the hollies. The rhododendrons are a little different. I break off the flower when it’s done, and trim back the new growth as needed. They shed their inner leaves, as well as the euonymus and pyracantha, so now that that has happened, it is best to remove all the fallen debris.
I also like to scratch up the mulch a bit so that it does not become too hard. This helps water to percolate through, as well as help to hold it in. I also follow that up with another application of weed preventer (every 3 months). While I’m on the mulch subject I want to share a tip: If you have trouble with squirrels digging in your pots, like I do, fill them in with shells. I have been doing this for years. They are too heavy for the squirrels to scratch out, so they leave them alone. It also looks beautiful and is a great mulch!
Another tip I have on days like this one is to use a market umbrella in a sturdy stand that you can move around to wherever you are working. I’ve even been known to set up the sprinkler to keep cool while weeding, and of course, don’t forget the lemonade!