Get your garden back in shape for spring
After a long winter, it’s always good to see the garden gradually start to wake up – and one of the most welcome sights for me is the reappearance of snowdrops!
Over recent years, snowdrop collecting has become increasingly popular, with more and more people paying huge amounts of money for the more rare and unusual varieties… But, still, I don’t think you can beat the drifts of the common, single Snowdrop (Galanthus Nivalis) – which is still sometimes known as the “Fair Maids of February”.
At their very best in February, it’s lovely to see them spring up in woodland gardens or naturalised on the verges. Seeing the small clumps of white flowers is always uplifting, and the first sign that Spring is not too far away.
That said, at the start of another gardening year – there is always plenty to be getting on with out in the garden (weather permitting!)
Below, I’ve listed some of the jobs I’ll be cracking on with over the next couple of months.
It might still feel a bit chilly – but apple trees can be pruned regardless of how cold it is, and now is the best time to cut out any dead wood or thin congested branches
I also like to shorten tall growing vertical branches by cutting them back to a side branch. This keeps their shape and prevents the tree from getting too tall. Generally, the rule of thumb with apples is simply not to prune too hard, otherwise you won’t get blossom and fruit this year.
While on the subject of apples, if you’ve been storing some of last autumn’s fruit in a cold shed or garage, be sure to check on them regularly and remove any rotters!
One of the best varieties to keep is ‘Bramley’s Seedling’. Ours were picked back in October and are still in incredible condition - they will store well into March. One of our favourite puddings through the cold months is Apple Pie – so if you’ve been storing apples, be sure to check out Jill’s Toffee Apple Pie recipe.
The Hellebore makes a great border plant. When it flowers, it looks good from February to April (the perfect early spring flower!)
I’ll always make sure to cut off all the old leathery leaves back to ground level – this helps to prevent the spread of leaf spots, allowing the flower stems and foliage to develop from the middle of the clump.
Now is the time to get the veg plot ready for sowing and planting.
I like to work in plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost to keep the soil in good condition… But not in areas where I’m growing parsnips or carrots, as it can cause the roots to fork.
Seed potatoes are in the garden centres now. As soon as you buy them, stand them in trays in a cool, light place to allow the shoots to develop properly before planting them in late March or early April.
Moth Orchids will flower throughout winter and spring and are very easy to look after.
As the days get longer, these plants may need watering a little more often – but be sure not to overwater them. When the flowers start to fade, cut the old flowering stalk off, right down to pot-level. This will encourage a new flower stalk later in the year.
Finally, roses can be pruned in March before they start to grow. Ensure to cut out any dead wood first – then cut back last year’s growth to a healthy bud.
Hybrid T’s and Floribundas can be cut back hard, and shrub roses by a third to a half!