A profusion of spring flowers are now brightening up gardens of all shapes and sizes along with the first flowering shrubs and cherry blossom
We can really start to enjoy our gardens again now. The clocks going forward at the end of the month gives gardeners extra time for jobs – and there’s lots to do!
First Things First
Gardening is good for you. There’s nothing like clearing out the cobwebs by donning your Hunter wellies and rushing out in the spring sunshine to sort out the garden. I don’t want to put you off… but please be careful and take it easy to begin with. If you haven’t done any exercise all winter, before starting any strenuous jobs, such as digging, do a few warm up exercises to ease yourself back in gently. A job such as digging should be done in short spells; a whole day at it might harm your back so at first vary your jobs by switching to one that doesn’t require too much bending.
Decide What to Sow Outside
Sowing of hardy vegetables and annual flowers can begin in earnest this month. You can bring them on in a greenhouse or cold frame to give the seedlings a better start in life, but later this month they can be sown directly into the ground. If you have a small garden, try growing vegetables among flowers. Many vegetables are attractive plants and can make wonderful contrasts to other ornamental plants in the garden. The fine feathery foliage of carrots contrasts well, for example, with the bold leaves of a Hosta. Globe artichokes and cardoons are striking architectural plants and will stand out in any border. Sow or plant the vegetables in groups, not rows, and they will look natural and blend in well.
Watch Out for Weeds
Many little jobs can be done at the gentlest of paces so while having a constitutional walk round the garden, keep a look out for germinating weed seedlings and take them out with a hoe. The best time to do this is on a dry sunny day so the weeds can be left on the surface of the soil to die. If you dig out perennial weeds, for example dandelions and nettles, while they are small, they will be easier to control later in the year.
After you’ve done all your weeding, you wouldn’t want the pesky things to return so it’s a good idea to mulch the borders with a thick layer of organic matter, for example bark mulch. This will also help conserve moisture when it gets hotter in summer. This is the best time of year to apply mulch: you really will save yourself hours of work later in the year if you do it this month.
Protect young, tender shoots of Delphiniums, Hostas, Lupins and other vulnerable plants from slug damage. These pests can do a lot of damage to newly emerging shoots before they’ve barely emerged from the soil and you might not be aware of this until the leaves begin to open up. The best organic method of protection is to put a layer of coarse grit around vulnerable plants.