So here we are again, at the beginning of another gardening season.
Spring is here, and now we can get on with all those tasks that we planned during the cold short days of Winter. If you’ve been looking at that evergreen shrub for the last few months and have come to the conclusion that it’s just not in the right place, there is still time to move it. There is always a risk moving a shrub, and indeed that increases with bigger and older specimens, but if you dig deep causing as little root damage as possible, then replant in a well-watered and fertilised spot, keep going with the water on a regular basis, then all should be well. Sometimes, if the shrub just has to go, whether it’s got too big for its boots and is either blocking a view or smothering other plants, you’ve not got much to lose.
Now is the time to tackle those Cornus (Dogwood) and Salix (Willow). These varieties will thank you for a good prune at this time of year. They are mostly grown for their colourful Winter stems, and to keep them doing their job next year, it pays to clip last season’s growth back hard. This will encourage fresh new stems that will give you a blaze of colour again from November onwards.
Take a look at your herbaceous hardy perennials. They will be popping their heads up after being dormant, and if they’ve been in your garden for a few years, may well be looking overgrown and rootbound. To regenerate them, and get some new free plants, carefully lift and divide them. Using two forks back to back is the simplest way of getting them out of the soil, then use a sharp spade or a garden knife to cut them into sections. Pop a few back into your plot, then pot on what you have left. There you are – free plants! If your friends do the same thing, why not set up a little plant swap shop?
We’re getting close to seed potato and onion set time, but do keep a close eye on the weather. We can still get some sharp frosts at this time of year, so if you have planted them out, have some horticultural fleece close by to protect your crop overnight.
In early Spring, the weather really can try to fool a gardener into thinking that all the bad weather is behind us. We can have a few lovely warm days and it seems as if we’ve turned the corner, then 24 hours later we can be under snow! So, do beware, don’t get too impatient and start to think about planting out your tender annuals and vegetable plants. You can’t beat nature – don’t plant anything tender out until early May at the very earliest!