Of course you are. Inspecting every new crocus and snowdrop, greeting daffodils, tulips and foxtail lily by name even though none is more than a green nub breaking ground. Overall, the landscape is still more straw-brown than green but you can feel it coming so you say, "I can't wait..."
No! Don't make that wish! Don't rush it. And don't wait for a better day, even if March hasn’t reached its going-out-like-a-lamb stage. Put on your gloves, grab your pruning snips or spade and take advantage of this oh-so-brief moment on the edge.
Right now you can walk easily through beds on dry ground, no worries about crushing the air out of the soil. You can work comfortably since there is plenty of room for feet, tools, tarp.
The edges of the bed are a bit fuzzy in places where lawn laps over. We need to cut and weed along those lines.
We spy winter weeds that germinated in fall. They wait through winter to bloom, set seed and spread to be a problem before most gardeners ever venture out in spring. We need to pull these now to avoid dealing with two dozen by May 1.
“There’s time,” we say, “it’s only March.” But we are deceiving ourselves, an amazing thing given so many years of experience. Do as we try to do – garden now like there is not a day to spare.
That’s because all those nubbins are just waiting for a rain. One good rain. All the cells in their spring shoots are already formed and wait now for water to pump each cell to 100x size. It will be glorious, true, but it will also seriously complicate every gardening move.
Right now we should celebrate that we can walk freely in the beds to cut down last year’s perennial stems that could hide or detract from the next wave of bulb flowers. We should be thinking, "What joy, to be able to reach into the base of that hydrangea and cut the stems all the way down without ruining the daffs all around it." And "Great, I can get close enough to see what I'm doing at the very bottom of that rose."
No wonder our records show that every hour we spend tending a garden in very early spring saves us up to two hours through the year. It's the difference between being able to cart mulch straight into a back corner, compared to picking our way carefully between plants three times to deliver that mulch by bucket. It's the cumulative savings of five minutes per shrub because we can drop cuttings onto a tarp at our feet rather than toss each clipping clear of the bed and then gather them up later. The uprush of spring is the curtain call for quick work.
If the soil is friable, you can walk on it and dig in it without damaging its structure. Take up a handful and squeeze your hand around it. Open your hand and give the compressed soil a poke. If it crumbles pretty readily, all is good. If it has so much moisture in it that it stays in a clod, then you should not walk on it unless you spread your weight on boards or snowshoes.
Yes. What is growing in the garden is fully hardened.
And yes if the new plant is dormant – its growth buds still closed. Dormant mail order plants are only recently out of cold storage.
If you hesitate to plant or transplant because of possible frost damage (of course that would have been a risk to a transplant in its original location, too, you know!) you can set one of your loose bundles of clippings over the plant each night until the weather settles.