The recent milder CT weather presents the perfect chance to clean up the leaves and debris remaining in garden beds. At this point in the growing season, most bulbs and early emerging perennials are still relatively small and less at risk for damage from a lightly handled rake. Cleaning out beds now allows for close inspection for creature burrows and ground level damage to shrubs, uncovers annuals left in place last fall that should now be removed, and helps locate any early sprouting weeds. I tend not to compost this debris, however, to avoid the introduction of any plant pests/diseases into my compost.
However, since hungry deer are still foraging close to houses, I’m not ready to remove winter fencing protection from rhododendron, azalea, or other bushes deer love. Deer would find these a welcome late-winter snack, especially since so little green food exists right now in the forests. I generally keep such fencing in place a little longer, then once these physical barriers are removed, I diligently spray or spread deer repellant in hopes of keeping the four-legged vegetarians at bay.
This brings another good point … deer will eat crocus and any early blooming mini-iris. I’ve kept mine intact (see photos in previous post) by covering them with baskets each night. In the morning I simply uncover these tiny blooms, and stack the baskets aside for the next night’s use.
Any newly exposed perennials (daylily, mums) are equally at risk and should be likewise protected from nighttime foraging or sprayed with deer repellant.