It’s here, it’s finally here – spring is beginning to show its face in gardens throughout the country, through the green shoots on hedgerows, swelling magnolia buds, and the bright yellow flashes of narcissus. This is what many of us have been anticipating since the start of November; soon it will be warm and bright enough to spend hours on end out in the garden without the constant need to keep dashing back indoors to warm up! Seed sowing is on everyone’s agenda, by now we are beginning to plant the earliest of flowers and veg to grace our summer plots, but what else can be done in preparation for the season which is just beginning?
Now is the ideal moment for garden maintenance, and for a tidy of your outdoor space after such a cold winter. Deadheading any spring bulbs which go over will not only keep your display colourful and neat, but it will allow the promotion of more energy into developing bulbs for next season, rather than seeds pods. It’s a quick job, and very rewarding. Similarly, winter bedding, namely violas and pansies, also feel the benefits of deadheading – if you are lucky you might get sprawling viola flowers right through until May. I know it’s boring and not the most exciting of outdoor jobs, but the sweeping of a patio area or greenhouse and the collection of any remaining fallen leaves will instantly improve the appearance of your garden – it can almost be symbolic of a fresh new start.
However, don’t be guilty of being too tidy – leaving a patch of wild lawn, a pile of logs or a cluster of nettles throughout the season will welcome wildlife to your plot, increasing biodiversity. In addition to preserving a habitat for pollinating visitors, food is needed, and nowhere else is this more potently provided for than wildflowers. By sowing even one square meter of wildflower seed this month, you will provide vital nectar and hiding spots for all creatures. There’ll be a buffet as well as a hotel, true Bed & Breakfast style!
Your winter pruning agenda should be nearing its end, although there are still a few weeks until growth kicks off in earnest. Finish pruning shrub roses in the first couple of weeks of this month, cutting them down to between one and two thirds of their previous size. This will allow you to remove any weaker stems, promote the creation of more, fresh shoots, and will also enable you to somewhat shape your plant – a super heathy maintenance job to ensure blooms are plentiful this June. If skeletal stems of herbaceous perennials have been allowed to remain throughout the winter for the benefit of wildlife in your borders, then now is the time to ensure all old stems are cut back and cleared in order to make room for this year’s shoots and new fresh green growth.
But the primary task which will occupy gardeners inevitably this March is seed sowing – most will have orgainsed and pre-ordered their seed throughout the winter months, although if you haven’t, you have yet to miss the boat! There is a stunning array of the brightest and most exciting varieties, both annual and perennial, at The Rose Press Garden. Why not sow cosmos ‘Double Click Bon Bon’ or ‘Daydream’ now for clouds of summer colour, or how about lavender ‘Hidcote’ for a display which will come back for years to come. Aquilegia ‘Spring Magic’ will add extra dimension to your May borders, and Stock ‘Cherry Blossom’ is irresistible. By pre-ordering these varieties this month, a simple yet extremely exciting task, it is an insurance policy that your garden will be the most colourful it has ever been.
As always, it is too easy for the gardener to be swept up in business – the list of jobs to do and seeds to sow can at times seem increasingly exponential. Just remember to take a step back and assess your changing outside space; spring arrives subtly yet suddenly – blink and you’ll miss it. Instead, watch closely buds opening, increasing daylight levels, and the appearance once again of birds in the hedgerows.