No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.
Kieran Gallagher, Cardwell Garden Centre
I think spring has to be my favourite season of the year, although I can sometimes be heard to say autumn. This is partly because of the gardening calendar, but also because these two seasons are the least to be affected by the weather.
In the west of Scotland summers can come and go in the blink of an eye and winters, as far as I am concerned, can be quite grim without any snow to brighten things up.
Whilst autumn will always keep a place in my heart for bountiful crops and stunning hardwood foliage, spring marks the beginning of the year for me. The nights are brighter, the temperatures are beginning to climb to something more bearable and no amount of inclement weather will stop nature from pushing ahead.
March saw the first daffodils begin to bloom and April will see hedges, shrubs, trees and lawns come to life.
Most pruning of perrenials should already be done, but if you are late then you should only remove the smallest amount you can, so as not to damage this year’s growth. This will always be a risk of late pruning.
You should not prune any flowering shrubs just now as this will almost certainly ruin any chance of a good display.
Spring flowering bulbs are great at this time of year. A common question we get at Cardwell Garden Centre concerns the feeding of bulbs. There are two ways that fertiliser can be applied to bulbs that are planted in the ground or containers.
Firstly, a small application of a general purpose granular fertiliser like growmore in late February will help your bulbs get off to a good start. Obviously, it is too late for that this year, but worth bearing in mind for next year.
A liquid feed can be applied to bulbs that are in growth or flower. It is normally not necessary, but can be advantageous to bulbs that are planted in containers and tubs. These have a limited amount of nutrients and feed available to them. For this purpose a liquid feed that has a good level of potassium is best as it will promote continued flowering. Tomato food is as good as anything else here and once every week or two should suffice.
Bulbs that have finished flowering should be left in the soil until all the foliage has died back to ground level. This means the bulb is dormant for the year and can either be lifted to be stored or cut back to tidy up the appearance.
As both the air and soil temperatures increase we can start to think about adding colour to the garden in the form of spring and summer bedding plants. These are cheap to purchase, easy to grow and care for and will supply abundant crops of flowers until the first frosts of autumn.
The versatility of bedding plants has made them a staple favourite of almost all gardens and the choice of shape, sizes and colours of flowers guarantees that the most fussy of horticulturists can find something to make them smile.
April is too early to plant the softer bedding plants without some protection from overnight dips in temperature, but the addition of frost protection fleece can negate the effect. Likewise, hanging baskets are susceptible to air frosts, more common than ground frost in Spring.
There are still plenty of half hardy bedding and annuals that can brighten up the darkest are of the garden, though, and a trip to Cardwell will surely inspire you. Make sure to speak to Brian or Cheryl for advice suited to your needs.
Lastly, use the last of the quiet time to plan and prepare your planting arrangement. Think about what you want to achieve and using what plants. Choose contrasting heights and foliage and arrange them from the perspective they will be viewed, ie put the short and trailing plants at the front and tall or climbing plants to the rear.
We have the whole of Spring and summer ahead of us, folks. Let us hope for a good one.