It feels like summer has arrived with a colourful bang. The front gardens in the whole parish are looking lovely, so I really think that most of you do not need my gardening tips! I am now going to give some advice for a colourful spring garden; planning really does start in July for a colourful start to 2018.
I like to use lots of colour. My favourite spring plants include bulbs (all), primroses, hellebores and pansies. Nothing too sophisticated, just plants that work. I have just been introduced to a new pansy
which is more of a thorough-bred than the usual bedding variety. This lovely plant is called Viola Avril Lawson; a perennial violetta with deep purple flowers, a lovely scent and a scrambling habit. Repeat flowering from spring into summer; having not grown it before I do not know if it continues to flower into autumn. My winter flowering pansies are still hard at work, flowering their hearts out for 8 months now. It seems a shame to dig them out to put the petunias in.
Bulbs to order from August for planting in September include snowflakes (Leucojum), wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), dwarf daffodils (Jetfire is a favourite of mine), Alliums (including Allium Purple Sensation, Allium christophii, Allium sphaerocephalon, and Allium niger which has white flowers). If you get tulip bulbs, these need to be planted in October. All bulbs can be purchased either online or from garden centres and nurseries. I tend to wait until the first rains in autumn before planting bulbs, it being much easier to dig holes in damp earth rather than in something resembling concrete.
Foxgloves are an impressive sight in the spring garden. They are biennial, which means that they need to be sown now to flower next year. You can choose white, pink, purple or peach plants, so there is some scope for a colour theme. There are other choices regarding flower form, but I must admit to loving the ordinary, wild plant that creeps into the garden from the woodland edge. Primroses can be split up now, so you either split up clumps in your own garden, or acquire them from a friend. It is easy to grow these plants from seed, but sow the seed straight away when collected from the plant. Remember, it is a criminal offence to remove plants from the wild to put in your garden.
Lawn care: It is difficult to look ahead and gauge the best time to raise the blades on the lawn mower. If too early, then the grass will get too tall. If too late, then the grass will scorch in a period of drought. Good luck.
Weeding: The wet winter and spring have encouraged lots of annual weeds (and some pernicious perennials), but if your weeds have got out of hand, do not despair. On a dry day, it can be very relaxing removing weeds from the borders. Just do a little bit at a time. At this time of the year, it is just as important to sit in your garden as it is to work in it!
Colour: If you haven’t staked your herbaceous perennials, it is getting a bit late to do so now for the early ones. Stake the later flowering ones now, so that they don’t get beaten to the ground by thunderstorms.
If you give early flowering perennials a close shave now, particularly the Oriental poppies, early flowering hardy geraniums and cornflowers, then they will flower again in the autumn. Don’t forget to dead head to keep the colour coming.
The most important thing to do in your garden this summer is to sit out in it and enjoy it.