Useful Yard

Spring is knocking on the door and I feel like I’m running out of time to get new plants planted, young plants transplanted, and empty areas ready for seeds. Today the sun was out and the temperature rose over 50°; I nearly finished my remaining winter tasks.

Most of it was rearranging things on a dry slope that was overdue for erosion control. I worked fast on the following but the decisions were months in the making.


  • a winter-hazel (near smoke tree)
  • a Pacific wax myrtle (to patio)
  • a buffaloberry (as screen)
  • two nootka roses (back slope)
  • a young snowberry (back slope)
  • a blood currant (fill a gap)
  • an evergreen huckleberry (too close to wax myrtle)


  • three new snowberries (back slope)
  • a cascara sapling (near two others)
  • logs on front/back slopes (to hold mulch)

My fingernails are filled with dirt. My body is sore. There is only one plant left in a pot — a six-inch tanbark oak.

Whenever I talk about working in the Northwest’s winter, it feels a little like bragging. I’ve successfully planted trees in November and in January. In February, with the leaves fallen and the structure of the garden exposed, I’ve established paths, moved materials, and transplanted. Eventually spring comes everywhere, and the plants catch up, but I’d never trade away this early start on the process.