Time for patience...

That cold snap wreaked havoc in our gardens, but ultimately it may have been great news. "What?" you holler, as you peruse the frayed remains of your favorite plants.

For the past three or four years we have not had any truly severe winter weather. This has allowed the chewing-insect population to thrive, and the drifting spores of mildew to multiply. A good hard freeze reduces the population count of these garden visitors. We've had the freeze now, but the aesthetics leave much to be desired.

And this is the time for the hard decisions. Will that plant recover, and those over there? It will be weeks, and in some cases months, before the verdicts are in. Meanwhile, resist the urge to prune back the "dead" parts. The plants have been stressed, and pruning them will add to their discomfort at this time. And the long-range forecast includes more cold snaps.

To make the sorry mess a little bit more palatable, this is a good time to "straighten the edges." With a sturdy metal rake - my favorite being the California Flexrake - clean out the mud and weeds from your sidewalk gutter. For the taprooted weeds, such as dandelion, hack at them with a shovel. Cleaning up this debris is a great way to stay warm, and believe me, the tidy aesthetics really will make you feel better about your garden and your neighborhood. Also, it is a great way to catch up early on the local gossip. We have all been indoors too long, hiding away from our neighbors. It is time to break out and greet each other again. Do remember to give a big warm smile and a vigorous wave to the really tiresome ones!

In the garden itself, clean the windblown winter detritus of leaves out of the corners. Along the paths, clean up the muck lurking under the plants lining the paths, and pull out those early spring weeds. Give your lawn areas new, sharp, clean edges. All of this fussing and tidying will make you feel quite virtuous and truly help you to overcome some of your dismay over any freeze damage. It will also give you more time later for attending all those April plant sales!

Now, however, we need that elusive quality called patience so we can just squelch our current disappointments and soldier on through the predictable blasts of cold that March makes us endure.[[In-content Ad]]