GARDENS FOR NATURE AND YOU
Jody’s Garden Services
The early signs of spring are starting to go over, the last of the daffodils and early tulips are fading and need to be dead headed. It is tempting to cut back the leaves of daffodils, but to keep them tidy you can fold the leaves over and tie them up. Ideally, I would just leave them to die back naturally and feed the ground with bone meal to beef up the bulbs for next year’s displays. If Tulips are in the way of summer bedding plants, they can be dug up when faded and healed in, in an out of the way spot to ripen over the summer.
Bulbs, such as snowdrops, which have seed heads on them can be allowed to ripen; this will increase your display in years to come. Others, such as the dog tooth violet will increase from the bulb below ground.
Shrubs and trees are now bursting into bud; the flowering cherries are dropping their blossom like confetti in the breeze and the dogwoods are at their best showing off the reds and yellows of their winter stems and their fresh green leaves.
The ground is warming up in the spring sunshine and there is a feeling of summer in the air. It is still not too late to dig over a bit of garden to create a vegetable patch. Dig in lots of compost or well rotted manure to enrich the soil and add some chicken manure to add minerals for a healthy crop.
To get a good start, salad seedlings such as lettuce and tomatoes, along with peas, beans, cabbages and peppers can all be bought ready to plant out from garden centres and markets. But there is still time to sow a few varieties of vegetables and salads from seed which will be ready for harvesting only a few weeks later.
It should be safe to put out courgettes and marrows, but beware of late frosts. Planted up hanging baskets can go out, these will need feeding and watering regularly throughout the summer.
For a lovely lawn this year, treat with Moss killer 2-3 days after mowing and allow 2-3 days to work before raking out the dead moss and thatch and mowing again. Do not dispose of lawn clipping in the compost bin or use as a mulch, for a couple of mowings.
If you have already been growing your own plants from seed, either in a greenhouse, cold frame or the kitchen windowsill, after hardening off for a few days to acclimatise, these can now all be planted outside. Make sure you keep a weather eye out for frosts and supply protection where needed to tender plants.
Before your herbaceous plants become too straggly, provide supports for them. There is a wide variety to choose from in the garden centres, but you can also use bamboo sticks or even prunings from Dogwoods and hardy Fuchsias as twiggy supports.
Shrubs that have flowered, such as rhododendron and viburnums, can now be pruned back if they require it. Also the early flowering and sometimes rampant Clematis Montana should be pruned back to keep it within its allotted boundaries.
Climbers, like roses and clematis, are really gathering pace now and will need to be tied in regularly to keep them tidy and trained. Any that you want to transplant must be moved as soon as possible. The hole should be ready prepared with plenty of leaf mould or compost to help preserve the moisture while the plant is getting established again. Make sure you take as large a root ball as possible to minimise any root disturbance.
Don’t delay any longer if you intend to paint your fence with preservatives and stains, as the taller plants at the back will quickly be covering up any access to the fence.
After weeding your borders, mulch with bark chip to improve moisture retention and to keep down further weed growth.
Keep feeding your garden birds, they still need your help while they are finding food for their young. Make sure you don’t put out whole peanuts, unless in special peanut holders, as these will choke the young birds. If you have a few dead branches from tree pruning earlier in the year, collect them together in an out of the way corner and create a log pile for wildlife.
The weather has warmed up now and colour is everywhere in the garden. This is the month when the garden is bursting with life from birds and wildlife to flowers and shrubs. Planting can go ahead now, but beware of late frost.