It’s amazing how fast everything’s growing! A garden maybe empty in the morning, but go by again mid-afternoon, and ligularias black ruffled leaves are suddenly up and unfurling, primulas yellow buds are opening, and the spiky closed leaves of brunnera expand to show slivers of silver. Spirea and barberry tiny leaves are a haze of soft gold, lime green and vibrant orange. Ajugas dead mass of leaves is suddenly showing shiny new growth. You have to look closely for leaves on the viburnum . They remain closed and are the same color as the stem bark. But the lilacs already have buds forming. Please no late frosts!
You have to work quickly, but there’s still time to prune your smoke bushes back if you don’t mind losing the puffs of smoke in favor of larger, richer colored leaves. Trim last years flower heads off rose-of-sharon and hydrangea. If you have ‘Annabelle, which has a suckering habit, you can trim just the top off for a taller plant, or cut it back nearly to the ground for a lower plant. If it’s a shrub form, prune off the dead wood to a bud and prune to shape.
Remove last year’s leaves are soon as possible. They can be smothering perennials and keeping too much moisture around plants particularly sedums.