This week, for the first time in months, I’ve been warm while gardening – which must mean that spring is definitely on the way!
With the sun streaming in through the window as I write this, it’s hard to resist the call of some spring gardening; that lovely leisurely pottering that only the warmer weather of spring and summer allows. So far it’s been all about wrapping up warm, concentrating on the task in hand, then heading back indoors for a cuppa to thaw out my fingers.
March is still very unpredictable weather-wise though; glorious warm sunshine and hail showers in the same day are perfectly possible. And there are still going to be days when you can only spare a few minutes for gardening, even if it is more tempting to linger out there. So for those 10 minute gardeners amongst us, here are some quick spring gardening jobs to help you keep on top of things.
Tidy up borders
My garden borders are still looking rather bare and drab, but there are signs of life starting to poke through the soil everywhere. Now is a great time to clear away the last fallen leaves, get rid of any weeds and add a layer of mulch to your borders. Mulching now will keep weeds down, and give your plants a much-needed nutrient boost before they start their growing season. If you don’t have your own compost you can buy bags of farmyard manure from garden centres, large supermarkets tend to stock it too at this time of year.
Think about plant supports
Get your plant supports sorted now before they are actually needed; it’s much easier to get them in place this way and the plant will grow up through them, which always looks better. Typical candidates for supports are peonies, hydrangeas and lavatera (mallow), and of course climbing plants such as clematis and honeysuckle.
Sort out your seeds!
If you’re anything like me, your seed collection will be a bit of a mess! I’ve got loads of half-empty packets and a lovely pile of new ones that have just arrived, all shoved haphazardly into a tin. In this state there’s little hope of sowing everything at the right time, so a good sort-out is what’s needed. Go through your seed stash and order it by month of planting, this will make things much easier when you want to grab ten minutes to do some sowing.
Some plants will benefit from a quick tidy-up this month, before they start putting on lots of new growth. Last Summer’s side-shoots on wisteria can be cut back to 2 or 3 buds. If you’ve left ornamental grasses over-Winter you can cut them back hard now. Buddleia can also be pruned hard, reducing last year’s growth to a few buds. Summer-flowering clematis (the ones that flower on the growth they produce this year, as opposed to last year’s growth) can be cut back to a pair of buds just above ground level. If you’re not sure which type of clematis you have, take a look at this pruning guide to help you work it out.
This all still feels very much like tidying and preparing, but it’s these kind of jobs that make the world of difference in the garden later in the year. I’d love to hear what you’re up to with your spring gardening this month.