Uncover, Rediscover Your Hellebores
Look for the mauve, rose, white, or green blossoms on evergreen oriental hellebores -- aka Lenten rose. The flowers hide under the leaves of older varieties. Newer hybrids -- Royal, Heritage, Gold Collection -- hold flowers on stems above the glossy leaves. Look for cultivars with double flowers. Use pruners to clip away brown, dried-out foliage to better see and appreciate the blooms ... and make way for new spring growth.
Have Fertilizer on Hand
Soon crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, spring anemones, camassia, Virginia bluebells will be poking budded stems skyward. Fertilizing them with slow-release or special bulb food is easy at this early stage. Nutrients won't benefit this spring's flowers much. They will feed the underground bulbs though so there'll be more blossoms in spring 2010.
Pay Attention to your "P"s
Bright-faced pansies and delicate primrose are spring delights. When the cute flowers beckon, indulge yourself. Pick your favorites in groups of three, five, seven of one color or type. Create clusters, planting each flower 6 to 8 inches from the next. One color/type grouped here; a different color/type planted there. Remove dead flowers to prolong bloom time.
Mulch Perennial and Shrub Beds
It's not to early to apply organic mulch to flower and shrub beds... and around trees. If you've ever let this chore slip your mind till the perennials are nearly grown, you understand. Twisting your way between large plants and lifting stems and leaves to shovel on mulch -- well, it's not pleasant. If you apply three inches of mulch now, perennials and bulbs will easily push themselves up and out. And weed seeds won't germinate.
Plan Early-Season Annuals
Calendula, stock, Verbena bonairiensis, sweet peas, allyssum, nigella, nicotiana, and viola either prefer or will tolerate cool spring temperatures. Scatter the small seeds in empty spots in borders and beds. Plant sweet peas and calendula according to packet directions. Label and mark the spots to remind what you've planted where.