I get a good feeling as I walk around my garden just now, the signs of life and splashes of colour that are starting to appear are lifting me up.
The snowdrop flowers are starting fade now but those of the spring snowflake, Leucojum vernum will hang on just that little bit longer. At a glance they could easily be mistaken for all being the same plant, but on further inspection you will soon see how they differ, with the latter having nodding white bells with, for me, a lovely shade of green sword-shaped leaves.
I have two lawn areas at home, a larger area that is slowly receiving more garden features as time goes on but has mostly been used as a sports pitch as my kids grow up.
The lawn out front I have a bit of fun with, the only parts here that receive a weekly cut are the paths, to divide the plot into a couple of irregular shapes and the strip around the perimeter I create to frame this area.
The centre section I leave uncut all summer, allowing the grass to grow long and the wildflowers to flourish. The outer area I only cut every three weeks during the growing season to give a bit of contrast between the long and short grass and also to support the wildlife. I started this to save myself a bit of time and to create a wee feature for my kids to run around in, but now I just enjoy the look it adds to the overall picture of my garden.
Last autumn I added a mixture of purple, white and yellow Crocus bulbs to the outer section for a colourful spring flowering display, starting from the part of the lawn that receives the most sun – and they have emerged to do just that.
Sometimes it takes more than one attempt to get things right and next autumn I think I need MORE bulbs in here to make a proper display. And I am wishing I’d just stuck to what I felt was right and not added the yellow to this colour scheme.
The one yellow flower I am enjoying is on the dogwood Cornus mas, also known as the Cornelian Cherry.
An abundance of flowers appear before the leaves on this large shrub. It could also be used as a small tree which, when in full bloom, becomes the sign I’ve been looking for that spring has finally arrived.
In other shrubs there is visible evidence they are slowly coming to life, where in the Mock Orange plants, cultivars of Philadelphus, the buds are beginning to swell.
That’s telling us the sap, the fluid which flows around the veins of the plant, is on the move now and that we should have completed all our winter pruning.
The last task to be finished from the winter list is the trimming of the smaller shrubs such as Potentilla fruticosa and the mound forming Spirea japonica, so to keep them neatly in shape.
These could be trimmed immediately after flowering but with the likes of plants such as Spirea I like to keep the spent and now dried flower heads on the plant for a bit of winter interest.
At my front door I keep a wee half barrel which is where I have my interchangeable display, depending on the season. Once the frosts have taken their claim on the summer display it’s in with some fresh gritty compost for layered plantings of bulbs to create a display from late winter through to mid-spring.
This year the top layer is a combination of the yellow Iris danfordiae from the early flowering Reticulata group of this genus, popping through plantings of winter flowering pansies. Planted underneath them at the same depth you would as if out in the ground are a white flowering daffodil variety called ‘Tibet’.
A lasagne type planting
These will begin their display as the Iris come to an end, to be followed by a Tulip show from the goblet shaped ‘Cream Cocktail’, though if I’m in luck there will be glimpses of it’s distinctive creamy-white margined foliage as the daffodils are in bloom.
Brilliant fun this ‘lasagne’ type planting which allows you to get months of colour and interest from the one container, as the last of the Tulip petals drop the timing is just perfect to empty all the contents out and fill with fresh compost, all ready to be planted up with annual summer bedding.
We can still use our garden centres
Although garden centres are currently under restricted trading many are still offering click and collect or a delivery service so we can still get our hands on some seasonal delights to brighten up our garden. At the same time we will be doing our bit to support the plant growers who have invested their time and money growing these plants for us.
And some final advice. Spring may be here but there is still plenty of wild weather around, so it wouldn’t be daft to keep an eye on the forecast, protecting your new plants when required.