Now that the only snow appears in little pockets on northern exposures, it’s safe to say spring has finally arrived on Chicago’s Southside. The crocus are blooming and many little greenish nibs are protruding through dried leaves.
And those leaves are so important right now! Resist whatever notions of Protestant cleanliness would advise you to clear away all those dried leaves!
Those leaves are actually protecting your perennials — both flowering and edible. Spring here comes with huge swings in temperature in the matter of hours and days that can stress plants to the point of extinction. It’s pretty common for us to have 20-degree snow flurries one day and 50-degree sunshine the next. These huge shifts in temperature stress and strain plants often to death.
Leaves and leaf mulch protect the tender new growth from these extremes. They also preserve much needed moisture in the soil from spring winds. You can help your perennials by gently breaking up any clumps of leaves and scattering the mulch loosely around your garden plants. And don’t be asking your help to be blowing the leaves and lives of your garden plants away!