“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower”
It is hard to believe but in a matter of days, leaves will be unfurling, birds nesting, bulbs and shrubs flowering and seeds germinating. It might still snow, rain, blow gales or freeze but whatever happens with the temperature, there is light and there will be more light – enough to set the green fuse alight. Nights will still be cold, but there will be clear sunny days when it will be possible to take a cup of coffee out into the garden and drink it, contemplating the delight/devastation.

Magnolia stellata

Things to do / things not to do:

Continue to tidy, cut back grasses and seed heads, feed and mulch. Look after the soil, the life that is seething away under the surface needs to be nurtured, it is essential for the life that will hopefully burgeon above ground.

Good old bluebells and Lamium ‘White Nancy’

It is too late to plant garlic, but I have done it anyway, hoping for the best.

It really is too late to cut hedges and clear evergreens, the birds will be nesting. So don’t bend the rules on that one, enjoy the dawn chorus instead.

Forget-me-not and the young leaves of sweet cicely

Sow seeds when the soil is warm enough. Sow broad beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, spring onion, parsley, carrots. Get chitting and plant early potatoes.
How do you know when the soil is warm enough? There is no necessity to fall in with the old gardeners’ joke of dropping the trousers to place the bare cheek on the ground, no doubt too much merriment from work mates – they made their own entertainment in those days. No, it is quite easy. The ground is warm enough for germination when you see a nice green carpet of weed seedlings cropping up just where you don’t want them to be. Hoe them off and get the seed packets out – you’re good to go.

Prunus ‘Shirotae’ with the lime green leaves of Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ and Exchorda ‘The Bride’

Give lavender, sage and thyme a snip round, not into old wood, fresh and tidy ready for this year’s new growth.

Pot up shrubs growing in containers under glass ie. citrus – use John Innes no. 3 for longevity.

blossom of the japanese cherry ‘Shirotae’