“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”
Gertrude Smith Wister
It’s the season of snowdrops, crocus and early blooming daffodils – a sure sign we’re coming to the end of one of the bleakest winters in modern times. Head out into the garden to carry on the preparations for a joyous spring and jubilant summer.
Dahlia tubers stored over winter (or bought this year) can be started into growth. Place them in a light, warm place to sprout before planting. They will need additional misting with a spray-bottle of water to stop them drying out.
Lily bulbs can be planted in pots for flowers this summer. After growing on indoors or in a cool greenhouse, they can be moved onto the patio when in flower, so that you can enjoy the blooms.
Bulbs coming up in the rock garden or in containers may benefit from overhead protection from the rain and snow. A sheet of glass or perspex placed on piles of bricks will do the job.
Hardy annuals can be sown in pots or modules to provide colour.
Summer-flowering Dutch iris bulbs can be forced and used as cut flowers.
Place gladiolus corms in seed trays or boxes and place in a light, warm (around 10ºC/50ºF) spot to encourage them to sprout before planting. This will ensure an earlier display.
Sweet peas can be sown under cloches, in a cold frame, or in a cool room in the house. Any sweet peas that were sown earlier in the autumn can now be potted.
Root cuttings can be taken of Papaver, Verbascum, Acanthus and Phlox.
Check on tender plants overwintering outdoors to ensure protective coverings are still in place.
If the weather is warm, you may need to start mow the lawn. Set the cutting height at its maximum, and only mow when the grass is dry. Re-cut lawn edges to crisp up the appearance of the garden and save work later in the season.
Turf can be laid, provided the soil is not too wet or frosty. Work from planks, to avoid compacting the soil. Do not walk on the newly laid turf and leave undisturbed for several weeks to allow new roots to establish.
Prepare seed beds for new lawns to be seeded later in the spring, but only attempt this if the ground is not too wet.
Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover.
Protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches.
Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off.
Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
Divide bulbs such as snowdrops, and plant those that need planting ‘in the green’.
Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges.
Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over the winter, remove dead grass from evergreen grasses.