April arrived with some sunshine, chilly but not uncomfortable breezes, and temperatures in the 40s and 50s. I think we even reached the low 60s briefly.
I got to work:
I took off all the mesh tubes that protect the tree trunks from antler rub in the fall and winter. It's nice not to have to look at those green plastic things now. There are about 45 trees that I put protection around -- the ones I think are most vulnerable.
I pruned back the roses in the cul de sac. The lawnmower guys who "maintain" the cul de sac and common areas won't do it. The roses are in bad shape, lots of dead wood and no form at all. I pruned them hard.
I took off a lot of the climbing hydrangea by the garage. Now that it has reached the pergola, I want to limb up the lower stems, but it will take several seasons I think. I pruned quite a bit, taking off side branches and the stems that arch out in the wrong direction. I sacrificed a lot of flower buds.
I took off the two tall spouts in the middle of the Cornus mas by the driveway, and then did a half-ass job staking it. The tree needs to be pulled upright. The soggy soil there has allowed it to tilt over too much. My staking is not really effective.
I cut back some of the dried perennial stalks. More to do -- that chore will take several more days. The transplanted Knock Out roses at the back of the driveway garden got pruned hard, and the pink Knock Out rose by the front door got a good chop.
I sprayed the kinnikinnik that appears to have powdery mildew with Neem oil. No effect.
I cut multiflora rose stems and Oriental bittersweet vines on the back hill and painted the cut stems with vine killer. It always seems like I must have gotten most of them, but I have probably stunted 10 percent or less of these aggressive vines.
I did some winter pruning, which meant walking around with pruners and randomly cutting branches off whatever I walked by. The winterberry hollies got limbed up and shaped, although they could surely use much more trimming. I want a more open, slender look for these rangy shrubs.
I cut back the smokebush, but not coppiced all the way. This year I want to experiment to see if I get a fuller, rounder shrub by only cutting the long stems back by half, still leaving a large structure of multiple branches. Sticky sap got all over my hands and pruners.
I put up the hummingbird feeder for the early male scouts. Migrating ruby throated hummingbirds have been spotted in Virginia, so they will be up here soon.
So much clean up still needs to be done, but I got to work and got a good start.