Spring is on its way, stuttering a little admittedly, with warm fine days mixed with a lingering chill, and drizzle, but the days are longer and our gardens and gardening senses are waking up. The cutting garden here at the Nurseries is bursting with the fresh green of our Spring bulbs – Narcissus, Tulips, Crocus and Fritillaries bounding up through the damp earth. Colour can’t be far behind.
With the warmer weather and an hour or more of precious light at the end of the day in which to get things done, there is plenty to do in the garden.
Come back year after year, providing the seasonal calendar of colour in beds and borders, are perfect choices for planting now. Thinking about your garden last year, this is the ideal time to plug any gaps and to extend the season of interest. Colour and scent earlier in the year – and of course later into the Autumn – can be worked into your plans now and in the weeks ahead.
An important part of your late-summer show, tubers can be started off now – in pots in a bright, frost-free spot, ready for planting out after the last frosts. Dahlias, in all their myriad forms and colours, are just one of the summer flowering bulbs and tubers that can provide spectacular fireworks in pots and in the garden border – colourful and often scented, for even more sensory delight.
Falling into this category, Sweet Peas – beautiful and fragrant, now is the time to get sowing. For true blues, blowsy pinks, cool whites and deep, dark and dramatic purples, there should be a place in every sunny post for a sweet pea.
As the garden wakes up, your roses are going to need a feed after their winter dormancy (just as the leaves unfold, treat them to a handful of rose food – if they are in containers, a splash of liquid seaweed diluted in the watering can will perk them up wonderfully). Make a diary note to feed them again after the first flush of flowers have gone over – late June or early July – but continue to feed container roses every month through until August.
The window for pruning your roses is pretty much closing now – but if you haven’t yet – set to this task. Prune down Hybrid Teas down to just 20-30cm; floribundas need less brutal treatment – cut them back by half; shrub roses including David Austin’s English Roses, benefit from a much lighter trim, especially if only planted in the last year or two. They can be quite versatile and more established plants can be pruned by up to two thirds to keep them compact – or by just a third for a larger shrub. Our experts here in the Nurseries can guide you and ease any pruning anxieties you might have – but take action sooner rather than later now.
You may be fortunate enough to have blossom in your garden now – and there are ample opportunities to enjoy the annual blossom extravaganza. The Japanese call Cherry Blossom time the Hanami Festival. The word Hanami elegantly captures the happiness and enjoyment of seeing cherry trees in full bloom. Brogdale in Kent has one of the largest collections of fruit trees in the world and with 350 flowering cherry it is a must-see sight in April. They celebrate Hanami in great style with picnics beneath the flowering boughs and special events going being held on the 22nd April. See www.brogdalecollections.org/hanami/#hanami-about
Closer to home, Kew Gardens and RHS Wisley will not disappoint in the floral displays on show – Cherries, Magnolias and Dogwoods will be at their best in the weeks to come.