My husband burned leaves from our yard (there are too many for the compost!). Are the ashes good for me to put all over the garden or just around certain plants? I planted Peonies and Lilac shrubs the year before last. They have not bloomed, but have nice foliage. What am I doing wrong? We have three acres of woods full of weeds. A master gardener from the county office told us to divide the woods into sections. If we do a section at a time and cut back the the old weeds and bushy branches and then started planting 'woodsy' plants (shrubs, daylilies, hostas, etc. ), we shouldn't have to use weed killer except for noxious plants like poison ivy. The new shrubs, flowers, and plants we put in will take over and the weeds will die off. We would like a second opinion just to be sure. I'd hate to put in hundreds of dollars in plants to have them killed off by weeds!
Ashes, Blooms, Naturalizing
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Ashes, especially those from healthy plant material, are fine for adding to the compost, which will go around plants. Here is more information: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/composting-ashes.htm
The lack of blooming in your plants could be due to a nutrient imbalance in the soil--namely too much nitrogen (which produces lots of foliage but inhibits flowering) and not enough phosphorus (which is necessary for blooming). I would recommend adding some bone meal to the soil around your plants to add more phosphorus and induce flowering. These articles will help ith that: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/bone-meal-fertilizer.htm
Yes, dividing the area in sections and working on it little by little is a good way to manage your wooded area and turn it into a naturalized garden.