Hoorah! There hasn’t been any substantial rain here in the East for the last couple of weeks which means that the soil is starting to dry out and we can finally get onto the borders to do some gardening. We are coming to the end of one of the coldest winters in recent years and undoubtedly there have been some casualties in the garden. The new growth of Photinias and Choisyas have certainly been blackened by the frost and some Hebes have been completely knocked out but with the sun starting to shine, the crocuses looking spectacular and with longer hours of daylight we can start to feel positive that a new season is awakening. Here’s a few gardening jobs to think about.
- Prune your roses. Now’s the time to prune your rose bushes if you haven’t already done so. Don’t get too stressed about the technical side. What you should do is prune back to an outward facing bud, taking the bush down to about half to a third of its height. You should also prune away any dead or diseased stems and burn them and prune away any stems that cross each other. You are aiming for a good open bush. This isn’t something to worry about too much – I know of at least one rose grower who does his rose pruning with a hedge trimmer and it doesn’t affect the flowering one bit.
- Tidy up frost and snow damaged plants. Prune out the dead bits from tender shrubs and climbers such as choisyas and solanums. Cut out bent leaves from phormiums and take out the dead brown leaves.
- Prune buddleias and dogwoods. Ideal time for cutting back Buddleia davidii to encourage flowering. Some plants that have got out of hand may need to have quite a bit taken off. Cut back the colourful stemmed dogwoods such as the red Cornus Alba. If you cut the stems back almost to the ground (15cm) it will ensure a new lot of colourful stems for next winter.
- Trim your grasses. We always give our ornamental grasses a haircut this time of year, ready for the new verdant growth to push through. Don’t cut too low only down to about 15cm. Good time for trimming back pampas grasses; we take a hedge trimmer to it or if you are in an appropriate location set light to it to take it to take off the dead bits and encourage new growth.
- Lift and shift your perennials. Good time for dividing and moving herbaceous perennials such as Phlox, Asters, Rudbeckia and Alchemila
- If you want to transplant Snowdrops, a good time to do this is after they have flowered when they are still ‘in the green’.
- Get out and dig over your bare soil now that the conditions are right if you haven’t already done so. For most vegetables you want to aim for a consistancy of coarse breadcrumbs before you sow.
- Start to sow some veg seed outside such as lettuce, raddish and cabbage
- Onion sets can be planted out now.
- Chitting Potatoes – To get your potatoes growing away better, you should chit them to encourage sprouting. To do this place in a tray or egg box and keep somewhere bright and cool for a couple of weeks. Put them ‘rose-end’ up (The end with the dormant eyes upwards). Earlies you can think about planting out at the end of the month
- Get the mower out and make sure it works. You may also want to think about a spring lawn treatment for next month.
- Plant lily bulbs ready for the summer.
And on another positive note Monty is back on Gardener’s World in a couple of weeks!