Well. Hello. This is my first blog entry for the Satellite Gardens web page. I’m delighted to be here, and I hope I’ll see some of you on Saturday mornings at Satellite Gardens. I’m there to talk gardening and answer any questions I can.
Let’s talk today about what we can do in our gardens now. After a particularly relentless and tiresome winter, when the snow piled ever-higher and the cold seemed to seep deep into our bones (and deep into our garden beds), the first warm days of spring are like a trip to the spa. We feel energized and enthusiastic about getting back into our gardens.
There are things we can do now and things that we should hold off on. Let’s talk first about the positives.
Pansies and primulas add a welcome splash of spring colour to the early garden and I’m a big fan of both – especially a big mass of pansies near the front door, either in a bed or a container. They’re tough plants that will even take a bit of late snow. If you can find a spot for them where they won’t get too hot as the season progresses, you’ll get a good 10 weeks of colour from them.
Bright colour is not the only option of course: I have a neighbour who fills an urn with forsythia branches, pussy willows and twisted branches from a corkscrew hazel. It looks lovely – and she puts in a few Easter decorations for the holiday.
You can also plant perennials as soon as your soil is dry enough that when you take a handful, it falls apart, rather than sticking together. Ask the folks at Satellite for their recommendations, but if you’re looking for something lovely for every spring, ask about Pasque flower, also known as windflower or pulsatilla. It’s a lovely plant with seed heads as attractive as its purple flowers.
And, of course, you can lift and divide your own perennials once they show signs of new growth. Don’t start too early on tender plants that still seem to be “sleeping.”
The first job in my garden, though, is cleaning up the mess that winter leaves behind. I use a small rake or, better still, my hands, to gather up litter, birdfeeder spill, broken twigs and branches, and any other winter debris.
My other early job is cutting back my clematis. I have the type that likes an early-spring haircut but if you aren’t sure about your clematis, talk to the experts at Satellite – or drop in on me one Saturday morning while I am at the Garden Centre.
And for a few other things, allow me to suggest a little more patience.
If your lawn is still soft, stay off it. Footprints leave compacted soil that will last all year. Let it dry out before you start walking on it or raking.
Hold off on pruning roses until buds start to swell: Nature’s own indicator of the right time to prune these lovely flowering bushes is when the forsythia comes into flower.
Next week in this space, I’ll talk about lawn care and what we all can – and should – do to get our grass off to a strong and healthy start.
Bye for now.