Purple pansy in the herb circle

Hardy pansies in October 2010. The first blossom of 2016 opened in early March.
Hardy pansies in October 2010. The first blossom of 2016 opened in early March.

A small purple pansy peeped out today, the first blossom in our community garden in the 2016 season.

As early as February other Calgarians were also noticing spring bulbs emerging and new growth on perennials. In an interview with Cindy White in February 2016, Calgary horticulturist Olivia Johns recommended a thorough soaking if the soil looks parched in perennial beds but cautioned against regular watering yet.

We spent a pleasant hour this morning weeding and pruning in the Herb Circle. We filled a bucket with red clover plants covered in tender light green leaves and couch grass. The clover had added nitrogen to the soil but it now crowds out herbs so it needs to be removed. Surprisingly the soil is already workable to about 8″ deep, the depth of the clover roots. This is a great time to weed since the roots are still relatively shallow. We can also cover bare soil with 3 to 4 inches of mulch to prevent weed growth.

We pruned the chives so we could find the camouflaged couch grass. As we removed some of last year’s growth from the western mugwort, oregano, mint, wild bergamot, lavender,  tarragon and catmint etc we added clean mulch around the plants so they are ready for Calgary’s legendary spring time. Johns recommends leaving last year’s leaf litter until later in the spring to keep perennials protected.

Spring bulbs have been ordered and will arrive for planting in May.

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