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I was hoping for good weather last weekend to get some clean-up work done in the front flowerbeds, but – surprise! – I didn't have nearly as much to do as I thought I would. My sweet husband surprised me one evening when I came home; he had done all the basic leaf and stick clean-up. So, all I had to do was cut back a few of the perennials.

The biggest job is cutting down the butterfly bush so it will regrow.

This shrub, I must say, has been the biggest surprise for me. Last summer – its second year – the bush grew to more than 14 feet tall! And it spread out to at least six feet around. It's actually higher than the roof edge of the house.

And all from a little slip of a thing that wasn't much more than a foot tall when I planted it.

Each spring I cut it down to the ground and it takes off again. I wouldn't be surprised if birds started building nests in it this year. I often saw birds using the branches even in the wintertime.

You couldn't ask for a better solution to screen a picture window and act as a garden backdrop. I am so glad I bought this plant.

Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer), Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer), Frank Noonan (copy editor) and Cathie Rowand (photographer)