The thrill of pulling garlic mustard in the spring!

Astilbe Visions
One of many Astilbe at the sale

When I started thinking about gardening seriously, I was shocked when one of our past board members, and still a perennial volunteer at the plant sale, told me she pulled 100 garlic mustard plants every morning before breakfast in April/May.  Then I planted my first bed and the next year I found so much garlic mustard crowding out my tiny, mail-ordered perennials because it had seeded into the disturbed soil.  So, I started going out before morning coffee myself and found that it only took a few minutes to make a big dent and get rid of these noxious invasives.  As a biennial, the best time to pull is when they are just starting to flower, but before they seed, because that's when the roots release most easily.  Also, they're a foot or more tall by then and you don't have to bend over so far to get a good grasp!

While cleaning up my flower bed I can take a good look at what plants need dividing and where holes are that need to be filled.  Garlic mustard thrives in part shade, which is most of my garden under a canopy of tall, mature trees.  Outside the deer fence I can plant hellebores, epimedium, tiarella, fern, dicentra, and shade-loving grasses.  I also put in shade loving shrubs like mahonia, leucothoe, and cephalataxus.  If there's a bit more sun, I add forthergilla and itea, both natives, and some late summer blooming anemone.  Inside the deer fence, I go nuts with astilbe, heuchera, tricyrtis, gentian, and my current fav: 'Sun King' aralia.

Of course, we'll have a great selection of all of these plants, and many more, at the sale.  See the whole list here.