Karen Murphy has some colourful suggestions for your garden in early spring
You’ve probably had enough of winter now – overcast days, wet weather and the piercing cold can get a little tiresome and leave us longing for the sun but now spring is almost here,
the merest hint of colour, life and sunshine anywhere, not just in the garden, is so welcome that we relish it so much more when we see it. This particularly applies to plants – just think how good it feels to see that first clump of snowdrops. There’s that feeling of hope that brighter days will soon be here and we’ll be able to get the garden working again.
This time of year seems to erupt into an array of pinks and yellows in particular. I think there are a few flowers, shrubs and trees that spring to mind when you think about late winter and early spring, but none as spectacular as Japanese quince, or chaenomeles. Branches that have lain bare through winter spring forth with vivid crimson, creamy or salmon-pink blooms, covering them completely and can happily last till the end of spring. It’s a wonderful tree for small gardens, which can still be planted now, and it’ll sit compactly in a sunny sheltered spot in any moist, well-draining soil. Prune it after flowering by taking out any weak or dead shoots. Create an open, airy canopy and it’ll perform well for you year after year.
Forsythia, incidentally named after Bruce Forsyth’s botanist ancestor, is another happy sight now. Hedges, gardens and roadsides would look a lot duller without this tree’s sunny yellow star blooms. It’s a tree I’d recommend to plant now, as it’ll grow pretty much anywhere, and won’t get out of control – it may need a prune after flowering to help it go bushy and flower more, but otherwise it’s wonderfully unfussy. Try the variety ‘Nimbus’ to grow in a large pot on your patio.
Bringing a bit of heat to the season are dogwoods, whose stems erupt like fire when their run-of-the-mill green leaves fall in winter, particularly when the sun shines on them. If you’ve a bit of space, plant them in full sun or partial shade in the full range of colours – ‘Sibirica’ in flame red, lime-green ‘Flaviramea’ and ‘Kesseiringii’ in deep purple. The rest of the year they’re simple foliage shrubs with pretty flowers, but it’s now they come into
Ways to awaken your garden for spring!
- Feed your soil in preparation for healthy productive plants by digging in some well-rotted manure or rich compost.
- Treat mossy and water-logged lawns by scarifying, give it a good mow and feed patchy areas with fertiliser.
- Most things can be started off growing now, such as sweet peas, broad beans, onionsand strawberries, to name but a few!
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