How did your garden look and feel over winter? Were there any plants that offered winter interest? Could there have been more shape and colour? It may be that the balance of evergreen and deciduous plants is not quite right, and perhaps your planting scheme could do with reviving. There are many plants that look incredible in the winter such as Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) with its beautiful yellow, orange or red petals, and interesting fragrance. Or for a completely different fragrance the scent from winter flowering Daphne is incredible, it has pretty flowers and this shrub can fit well in to small gardens as it has an upright growth habit. Another example is Winter Jasmine with its bright yellow flowers on climbing stems with the ability to enhance any corner of the garden.
Did any of your plants offer anything to wildlife over the winter? A habitat or food? Plants such as Viburnum Opulus (Guelder Rose) shrubs are great for wildlife with red berries in Autumn providing an important food source for birds, particularly bullfinches and thrushes, and in the winter particularly important for Waxwings visiting the UK from northern Europe. This is true of numerous plants which provide winter interest and nutrition.
Were there times over the winter when you wanted to get out and enjoy the garden more but conditions weren’t quite right? Think about adding more seating, some interesting lighting, a rainproof arbour, gazebo or pergola, a fire pit, or an unusual garden building to your garden – we can help with ideas, design and construction.
Research and plan some gardens to visit for inspiration for your own outdoor space – the National Garden Scheme has some beautiful gardens open for many months across the UK and raises money for health and nursing charities too. It’s always worth looking around other gardens to see which planting styles you like the look of, which design features catch your eye, and think about how you can add more interest to your own garden.
If this summer is as hot and dry as last summer was, then water collection will play a vital role in your own garden. Think about adding water butts before the summer begins so that you can store water ready for dry days.
It’s also good to be thinking about how your garden will look and feel during the summer. Now is a great time to be introducing companion planting and preparing to make the most of our gardens.
Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the awakening of plants and animals as they come out of hibernation and spend more time appreciating being outdoors appreciating nature.
Things we can be doing over the coming weeks to nurture our gardens:
Feed and mulch fruit trees and bushes – as they come out of dormancy and start a growth spurt these plants can benefit from feeding – spread organic fertiliser around the base and/or mulch with organic compost
Tidy up perennial herbs such as rosemary and sage by giving them a trim
Propagate clumps of chives and mint by digging them up, dividing them, and replanting
Plant summer flowering bulbs in early spring such as Gladioli and Lilies
Also, consider adding a bird box to your garden in early spring to encourage more birds to nest there – different nest boxes in different locations are required depending on the species you wish to attract
Consider adding an insect hotel to your garden – they are easy to make, or you can buy them ready made, and with many insect populations declining it is more important than ever
Start sowing seeds indoors. For example, you can sow Courgettes and Cucumbers at the end of April to give them a head start (a warm windowsill is ideal for this), sow Lettuce seeds now either into modules or straight in to the ground if you’ve had it covered (you may need to sow a few successions as the slugs love lettuce seedlings), Tomatoes and Peppers can also now be sown on a warm windowsill.