Spring! The season of hope.
Well…that was a tough winter. However the pandemic has affected you I hope the optimism of spring, this wonderfully fresh and abundant part of nature’s cycle of life, brings with it a sense of how our worlds are always renewing, continuing and improving, and above all gives hope for the future.
Spring skies are indecisive, will it be like last year when we were treated with the seemingly never-ending days of dry warm sunshine or will mother nature hide a beast from the east and blast us late with that cold arctic air, keeping us guessing as to when we can bank on the sun warming the soil (and our bones!)? In gardening, as with life in general, a good philosophy to follow is hope for the best, plan for the worst, and accept what you can’t control…
Spending time in spring preparing, tidying and planning your garden will reap huge rewards throughout the year. As your garden wakes up it’s time to get as busy as the bees! Here’s some jobs that you can do over the next couple of months;
* Mulch mulch mulch – spreading a thick layer of organic matter, such as compost, across your beds helps in so many ways and everyone should be doing it. It feeds the soil, helps with the structure and helps the earth retain moisture around the roots of the plants which will be very much needed in the warm dry summer (everything crossed!).
* Sowing the seeds of hope – you may have gone crazy with the seed catalogues or you may not know where to start but spring is THE time that you should get sowing in earnest, especially hardy annuals and lots of perennials. If you’re a few weeks later than the packets say then don’t worry, give them a go anyway!
* Feed – I like to use chicken manure pellets scattered across all my borders each spring but there’s lots of organic options out there. Don’t forget your container plants as they will be very hungry for nutrients.
* Pest control - if the weather is fine then you may start to see aphids on healthy new shoots. It’s hard to prevent them but if you keep an eye out then you can squish them (wear gloves!) before they become an infestation. There’s no need to use chemical insecticides as their predators, such as ladybirds and hoverflies, will be along soon enough to do the job for you. If slugs/snails are a problem, then think about applying nematodes to your garden as a biological control – they do work.
* Prune – Finish pruning those shrubs and trees that will be coming out of dormancy. March is the time to prune back the glorious coloured dogwood (Cornus alba/sanguinea) stems that have been cheering the winter beds. In early April it’s time to snip back the dried hydrangea flowerheads to the top leaf shoots.
* Daffodils (Narcissus) – once the flowers have finished looking pretty you can deadhead them but let the leaves die back as this is how energy goes back into the bulb for next year’s blooms.
* Make more plants the very easy way – perennials generally benefit from being divided every 2-3 years. Totally free plants to fill out your borders – win!
* Wildlife – provide food for pollinators by leaving a wilder area of your lawn or garden for the wildflowers, and dare I say weeds, to grow. It’s not a popular choice but it just might save a few insects during those hungrier months.
* Bluebell hunting – the spectacular scene of a woodland floor carpeted with bluebells is a joyful sight for those winter wearied eyes. Yes, it’s later in April when it happens, but when you see it you can be sure that spring has mostly definitely sprung and we’re on our way to hazy summer days again.
Here’s to a splendid springtime and nature exploding into life, clocks changing and the daylight extending, blossoming trees, foliage and flowers appearing almost in front of your eyes, busy insects and morning birdsong. Cherish the change in the seasons as the green lavishness of early summer swiftly approaches.
Gardener V is a professionally qualified horticulturist offering garden appraisals, maintenance and planting design services in Nottingham. Find out more at www.gardener-v.com.
This article is part of a series written for the coming year as part of a promotional newsletter for Anna Hart - Exceptional Homes, a bespoke estate agency service in South Nottingham. Find out more about how Anna can help you sell your home at www.annasellshouses.co.uk