Spring Zing: Suddenly there is blossom, there are flowers, even before the leaves, in some cases, emphasising the flowers against a clear sky. When the leaves do come, they are as fresh and colourful as flowers themselves. I miss the whitebeam (Sorbus aria)which blew down a couple of years ago, its white leaf buds looked like young white magnolias. The new leaves on Peiris japonica ‘Forest Flame’ are a fresh pink accompanying white drooping lily-of-the-valley fowers. Following on from the March Tips; I’m still having a Barbara Cartland moment, it’s just once a year – bear with me. Magnolia loebnerii ‘Leonard Messel’ is a gorgeous sugared almond pink. Camelia x williamsi ‘Donation’ is a profuse flowerer as long as it gets enough water during the summer when the flower buds develop. Underplant with tulip ‘little Beauty’ , or Bergenia cordifolia.
Keep fit and carry on gardening for there’s much to be done. And with some dry weather and lighter evenings, the temptations is to rush out and keep going until the sunset or the pain stops you. It has been a long winter and now is the season for bad backs, so go easy. Having said that it is necessary to carry on weeding before the weeds flower and set seed, dandelions can do this when your back is turned. Then feed and mulch, whenever the weather is dry. Once a bed is weeded you can see the spaces in the border, giving an opportunity dividing and rearranging herbaceous plants, particularly late summer and autumn flowerers. Leave the early spring flowering plants, they need their strength, but once they have flowered, go to. Large clumps of primulas and pulmonaria can be divided after flowering, it does them the world of good.
If the weeds are growing so will everything else. So give yourself a rest from bending and kneeling and sow some seeds. Lettuces and broad beans can be sown direct. Get chitted potatoes into the ground. Inside, in the warm, cucumber, courgette squash and sweetcorn (if you have the space). Half hardy annuals are great for seed trays in the greenhouse. It may be a bit late for tomatoes, but to be honest it saves time and effort if you buy the required number of seedlings later in May. Tomatoes don’t grow so well outside in these parts, so for planting in the greenhouse, you only need 6 -8 plants anyway.
A cut here, a cut there: roses and lavender can have a light trim. Try pruning shrubs grown for their leaves rather than flowers, like Cotinus coggygria. But it is too late any major cutting back of shrubs, the birds are nesting and the sap is rising, leave it until later in the year.