One problem with herbaceous perennials is the spring cleanup. Most herbaceous perennials need to have last years aerial shoots pruned off before this season's new shoots really get going. This process is complicated in our gardens by all the leaves collected by all of last year's shoots. The amount of plant litter that needs to be removed and gotten out of the way is quite voluminous both because of the number of herbaceous perennials, the size of the gardens, and the amount of leaves particularly those dropped only recently by our uncooperative oaks. Other artifacts are uncovered: very much used tennis balls from the golden retrievers next door, a short soaker hose for watering what was a newly planted tree about 12 years ago, some perviously useful pruning shears. And the work has only just begun. Part of the problem here is that until April 15th Mrs. Phactor hasn't got any time for gardening. This clearly demonstrates that the IRS is not very supportive of gardeners. There actually should be some major deductions for gardeners to encourage gardening and make the world a better place, but instead the deductions primarily benefit bad-hair plutocrats. It's all about priorities. This was a pretty mild winter so the gardens don't seem to have suffered any serious losses. It was also time to take the straw mulch off the strawberry bed, and good thing they were so mulched because the particular freezing and thawing this winter resulted in considerable amounts of heaving to which strawberries are particularly prone. Most of the woodland perennials handle a leafy mulch without much help. The wild ramp in particular, as well as the bluebells (of the borage sort), have the ability to push up though a massive mulch of leaves. So no rest for the wicked. Wicked?