Spring is the time of the gardening year when things get going, but it’s often difficult to determine when it starts or makes way for summer. A look at any seed packet or gardening article will state ‘sow in the spring’, ‘prune in the spring’ , ‘plant in the spring’ but when is the right time? At Reveley I have nearly convinced myself not to sow any seed inside until at least the 3rd week of March. In the greenhouse this prevents young seedlings needing more space than there is, and by sowing a little later they can be shifted into the cold frame quicker. A much worse dilemma for my friend who has no greenhouse and lost the battle with her teenage daughter that all window sills in the house including her bedroom were seedling growing on areas. Outdoors I have a much easier decision. I never sow anything directly into the ground out in the ornamental areas and in the veg garden until the soil has been turned over, and I allow the sun to warm the surface before sowing with the minimal amount of cultivation. If there is a flush of weed seedlings which shows the soil has warmed up, I hoe these out on the previous day. Spring pruning is done as the plant sap is rising, when the buds are just beginning to break. Mind you, even plants aren’t too sure when to start growing. As I walked along Elstree Rd this morning, one Horse Chestnut had its leaves uncurling while the two beside it have their buds firmly shut. With all pruning you need to know the flowering and growth characteristics of the plant so as not to end up with a non-flowering, non-fruiting blob. A general rule is shrubs that flower before July are pruned after flowering, those that flower later are pruned in the winter – but of course, this being gardening, there are exceptions. The perennials plants have all been cut down. I like to take them right to ground level rather than leave those little stubs which always get me when I kneel on them or scrape my knuckles when weeding later in the year. After some serious cutting back of trees and shrubs in the last few months, I have hopefully retired the loppers to the shed, which will not only be a relief to my shoulders but also to the returning nesting birds who have discovered they are homeless and will have to find alternative sites in the garden. Hope to see you in ‘Mabel’s’ soon for a nice cup of tea and a wander round the springing-into-life garden.
I know I’m struggling a bit to keep the song references as titles for this blog , this one from the Hollies (horticultural ?) but we now have a new bus stop and raised kerb beside the entrance to Reveley.