I sat in the chaise lounge soaking up some sun on the final day of winter and could only shake my head while looking up at the oak trees that were fully leafed out. Don’t feel bad - the weather is confusing the plants, too! My witch hazel never fully bloomed back in January and is now trying to figure out whether to open its leaves. Our area’s average date for last frost occurred several days ago. So let’s really get into those gardens!

Deadhead spent blooms of flowering bulbs to keep plant from using energy to produce seed. Let greenery die back naturally then clip. Dig up and divide bulb clumps at least six weeks after bloom.

Perennials that have become overcrowded and are showing signs of growth should be dug up and divided now. Replant healthy plants and share extras with friends. Forsythia, quince and lorapetalum have completed their bloom - spirea and lilac blooms are now in their prime with weigela not far behind. Wonder at the diminutive violets scattered care freely across the landscape. (Remember they are an important food source for the Diana butterfly.) My Carolina Jessamine was covered in blooms last week as well as hungry swallowtail butterflies.

If you have stands of fern get them cleaned up before young fiddleheads appear.

Avoid walking on your garden’s wet soil as you risk compacting it. Till or dig under cover crops as soon as soil is dry enough to be worked. And yes, start that weeding regimen.

Spray peaches, plums and pecans with an all-purpose orchard or fruit spray twice monthly after petal fall to control insects and disease. My blueberries were covered with blooms, hopefully will get a good crop of fruit later.

This month is special because we celebrate Earth Day. Do some things to protect and nurture Mother Earth.