Looking forward to the gardening year
By Sarah Wilson
It has been a wonderful February – record high temperatures with just enough rain to keep everything growing well. Many of the plants in full flower at the moment did not flower until April last year so we have so much more colour in the garden this year. In my garden there are still snowdrops as well as Narcissi, Anemone blanda, hellebores of all kinds, primroses, Iris reticulata and Hepatica. Lots of purples and lilacs and bright yellows to bring the garden to life.
I planted a lot of bulbs in pots last year and the Narcissi ‘Tete a Tete‘ are looking really nice, as are some pots of yellow Helleborus orientalis. This is an unusual colour for a hellebore and doesn’t really look that good in a border but really nice in a terracotta pot. The advantage of bulbs and perennials in pots is that you can bring them close to the house to enjoy the colour and scent without having to go too far out into the garden.
The garden is also full of scent and colour from early flowering shrubs and trees. The best scent comes from Sarcococca, Lonicera purpusii, Daphne Odora, Camellia, Viburnum tinus and Hamamelis or Witch hazel – and they are full of bumble bees on a warm day.
Other more unusual shrubs which bring colour to the spring garden are Lonicera elisae, Corylopsis pauciflora and Stachyurus praecox. These are quite easy to find in nurseries at this time of year and their flowers are more subtle being white or pale yellow, but they look graceful and very different from the ubiquitous bright yellow Forsythia.
Tasks for March
- Start cutting your grass – firstly keep the grass quite long but after April, if you want a good lawn, you should cut the grass twice a week!
- Once the spring flowering shrubs are over you can prune them, especially if they are becoming a bit leggy and overgrown.
- If you have planted any new shrubs or trees over the winter, you must keep them well watered from now on as they will have poor roots and need watering for about two years after planting.
- This is your last chance to cut back Wisteria and Clematis.
- If you have straggly and congested rose bushes they will benefit from a radical pruning – cut down to 20 cm and remove dead and crossing stems – they will send up new soft shoots which should flower well this summer.
- This is the ideal time to dig up and divide congested clumps of bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus or narcissi – if they have not flowered this year it may be that they just need splitting up and the bulbs will grow enough to produce a flower next year. It’s worth a try – divide them up, replant quickly and deeply, water in and don’t remove the leaves until they are yellow.
- Keep on top of weeds in the borders as they say that a day’s weeding in spring saves a week’s weeding in summer!
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme.
To contact Sarah please click here