The clocks have moved forward and we’re not seeing that beautiful sunset until much later in the evening. That means some precious time after work for all those things that seem more difficult during winter, the evening walks, the extra few minutes spent looking out the window or in the garden. It’s not just the darkness of the winter months that makes doing things more difficult, but the dreary, lethargic feeling that it invokes. It seems that a greater amount of energy is needed, accompanied by a will power of steel. I have decided to seize those extra sunshine filled moments and take up gardening. Although I love nature and feel at home in the garden with my camera, my fingers are not exactly what you would call green. Office plants die under my care, cacti shrivel and orchids run screaming. It’s going to take a bit of work, copious books to read and no doubt some back pain, but it will be so worth it when the rainbow colours are nodding their glory after they have pushed up through the soil.
Ready to plant are the “Jetfire” daffodil, the giant summer snowflake, puschkinia, tulip, hyacinth, ranunculus, Calla lily, allium, freesia and a whole host of seeds to sow. Most exciting for me, the poppy! I have literally thousands of seeds to sow and absolutely CAN NOT wait to see the papery petals unfold. A tip for a colourful, endless summer of beautiful red poppies is to get some poppy seeds and every week during March/April, chuck some around the garden. Aim for bare patches of soil and come the summer, they’ll flower and fill your garden with their beauty. Because you’ve sown in succession, there will be a longer period of colour hitting you. More on the poppy tomorrow, in the mean time, to get us started, here are some tips for spring gardening from Matthew Biggs at Gardeners’ Question Time.
- Fill gaps in borders with hardy annuals – sow lots of seed and there will be plenty of flowers for cutting.
- Resist buying tender plants until the danger of frost has disappeared.
- As soon as the first weeds appear, pull them out. This will stop them being too much of a problem later in the season by removing them before they set seed.
- Buy seed compost to encourage the rapid germination of spring-sown seeds.
- Tie in climbing and rambling roses so the stems are as near to horizontal as possible. This will ensure the plant is smothered in flowers as it restricts the sap flow and will encourage more side shoots to form.
- Sow spring and summer salads.
- Use high nitrogen spring fertiliser on ornamental lawns (unless it is a children’s play area).
- Cut back last year's growth.
- "Harden off" seedlings sown indoors before planting outside. Move them to the greenhouse, then a closed cold frame. Slowly start putting them outside on mild days.
- Feed woody plants with a slow-release general fertiliser.