The borders – So by now all your beds will be clear of weeds and the remnants of last season’s growth and you’ll have mulched everything up so things should be looking good. Now’s the time to look at doing something with any perennials that are now a bit big or are starting to get overcrowded in their space – it’s time to lift and separate! If I’ve got one big plant looking cramped, I’ll dig it up, divide it into three and plant back more or less where it came from giving it a bit more space, that way you get a block planting rather than little dots of plants around the garden. It gives much more visual impact from a distance and makes the garden look less busy. Oh, planting rules have it that planting in odd numbers of plants is better than planning even numbers by the way. I guess it looks more natural and less regimented, unless that’s what you want of course.
It’s all pretty straightforward, dig around the plant keeping a good root ball, stick two forks back to back into the clump and prise the clump apart into as many pieces as you want. This works great with hostas, hardy geraniums and daylilies and loads of other stuff. Then it’s just a matter of planting what you want to keep back and giving the rest away. Oh, don’t forget to put the mulch back too!
The lawn – I put some iron sulphate onto the front lawn at the weekend as a start to the annual moss control campaign. Most garden centres sell it and it’s easy to apply with a watering can. I normally add a dash of washing up liquid to the can which provides better coverage of the moss. It’ll all need raking out at some stage but I’ll feed the lawn before then so it recovers quicker. Don’t forget, if you want a good looking lawn, you’ll have to feed it. If you feed it , it will need mowing. The more you feed, the more it will need mowing – simples! It’s up to you but I think there is something cathartic about mowing a lawn. The kitchen – I’m always in favour of plants for free. You can more or less give yourself a full season supply of herbs like basil, mint, coriander and parsley from a single purchase from the supermarket now. Sprigs of mint will sprout roots in a week or so in a jar of water, pot them up in a pot though, not in the borders unless you want to be overrun with the stuff and be forced to drink Mojitos for the rest of your life. Buy a pot of live basil, re-pot it into a 12 inch pot and leave it in the conservatory or sunny window sill. It’ll grow to two foot high and give you loads of fresh basil for ages. Live coriander and parsley pots can be split into many little plants which can go directly into the garden and will grow all through the summer. Easy and more or less for free!
Garden centres – there’s loads of stuff coming into the garden centres right now. Summer bulbs like lilies and dahlias are always good value right now. It’s a good time to look on the discounted racks too for snowdrops that have finished flowering. Unless you are planning to make hanging baskets don’t be tempted to buy an summer stuff yet.
Once you’ve been through all that, relax, grab a drink and go out and see what’s growing in your garden right now. Most Spring flowers are on the small side so you’ll need to get up close and personal with them to really appreciate their beauty. Spring colours seem to be dominated by the fantastic snowdrop and then of course the yellows of daffs but it needn’t be just that though. Crocuses and anenome blanda are starting to create patches of blues and mauves and then of course there is the mighty hellebore.
Who can fail to be impressed by the variety of colour and complexity of these plants. They’re as tough as boots, live forever, seed freely without being invasive and flower with colours that make a welcome change to the mass plantings of yellows or the rather garish colours some primulas come in now (I always think a garden full of primulas looks a bit like telly tubby land). Hellebores or Lenten Roses are not cheap to buy but well worth the investment. The garden centres do supply trays of 6 plants for less but they’ll take another year to flower if you can wait and it’s always a mystery as to what colour they will be. You’ll see pots of anenome blanda in the garden centres now too. This is a rather expensive way of starting with them but they seed around freely too an will soon bulk out for future seasons. So there you go, a few early Spring ideas to inspire you beyond just looking out of the kitchen window! Happy gardening , I’m off out on the bike!