With warm, dry weather since early March - especially in England - it's been a long spring. But there's still time to get started on spring gardening jobs, says NAOMI FORD.
Spring is the start of the busy season in the garden, with plenty of work to be getting on with.
Garden jobs at this time of years are varied and can be pleasant, as colourful flowers start to bloom in in the warming sun against a soundtrack of birdsong.
New plants and perennials that have been indoors over winter can be planted out now that the ground is warm enough.
Alpines over-wintered in the greenhouse can come out again now too, together with pelargoniums and suchlike.
If you have put covers over your alpines these can be removed – but keep an eye on the weather and be ready to put them on again if there’s a cold or rainy spell.
Any seedlings can be hardened off now and seed planting in general can begin. Some plants such as phlox can be divided and replanted, if you have not already done so in the autumn.
Plants such as wallflowers that failed to survive the winter can be replaced now to avoid any unwanted holes in your displays.
It’s also time to start planting your allotment. Autumn bulbs also need to be planted now.
Pruning and repairing
Early flowering shrubs should be pruned when the flowers have gone over.
Climbers should be trained, where necessary, and tied in well. Any frost damage to plants should be cut away.
If you have roses to prune, then cut them back by a third, to the strongest bud or shoot, and apply well-rotted manure to the soil around them.
Grass clippings will help to ward off black spot. I always prune my buddleia as I do my roses and they seem to respond well to it – though I do leave a few to do as they please.
Fleeces can be removed now and stored for next year. Deadhead spent flowers as required by pinching them off, or by using a sharp instrument. But don’t remove the leaves from bulbs as these will feed the plant, keeping it in good condition for next year.
And when there’s dry weather, as there has been this spring, make sure you water your plants frequently.
Protect plants – especially young plants – against slug and snail damage. If you have to use a slug killer be careful to use a wildlife and pet-friendly one; thankfully there are a few on the market now.
There are preventative methods, though – a double row of copper tape around pots seems to work quite well as long as their only way to the plants is via the pot itself.
In warm dry weather, greenhouse doors and windows should be opened to let the air circulate. This will also help guard against damping off of seedlings.
It’s also a good idea to put bird or butterfly stickers on some of the windows to stop fledglings flying into the glass later on in the year.
General weeding will begin now. Start staking any tall growing plants. And mulch plants as needed.
Lightly mow the lawn on a high setting until late spring (depending on the weather) when mowing proper can start.
More on spring gardening