A Hume

A Hume
Gardens: Preparing For Spring

Gardens: Preparing For Spring

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Snowdrops are nodding their brave, stoic heads and narcissi tips are breaking through the frozen soil.


It can mean only one thing; the earth is tilting back in our favour, towards longer light, growth and the sweet inevitability of spring.


Time for gardeners to wake from their dormancy and leap into action. Before you know it you’ll be running like a mad thing trying to keep up with all the chores so steal a lead on the gardening calendar and get ahead now.


Gardening Jobs to do now


Prune apple trees


Apple and pear trees are winter pruned to promote fruiting in the coming season. The world will not stop if you fail to do it but pruning stops branches becoming congested and ensures good air circulation, helping prevent disease and keeping the tree healthy.


Image source: Pinterest.

Image source: Pinterest.


People can get rather anxious about pruning but there really isn’t so very much that can go wrong. The RHS guide to pruning apples and pears can’t be beaten. Other than this the best tip is to ensure that if taking off a sizeable branch always make two cuts. The first a rough cut to shed the branch and avoid a ragged tear, and the second a clean precise cut.


Sow Sweet Peas


You can sow sweet peas in autumn and over winter them, this produces early floriferous plants but they run to seed with equal speed. Or you can sow them mid-March-April but the plants are never as strong and you’ll be waiting impatiently for flowers well past mid-summer.


Image source: Pinterest.

Image source: Pinterest.


If you sow now, in on particular Feb 14th you’ll have abundant flowers in early summer that keep on going right through into autumn and the first frosts, if you’re lucky. Yes, of all the romantic things I do only Valentine’s Day, sowing sweet peas yields the most lasting joy (shah – don’t tell).


Sow 3 seeds in a 9cm pot and leave to germinate in a coldframe or cool north facing window sill. Pinch out shoots when plants have 2-3 leaves (about 15cm). Harden off gradually and plant out when the danger of frost has passed.


Cut back Perennials


Traditionally gardens were shorn of their growth in autumn but now many of the plants we grow are prized as much for their desiccated winter silhouettes as their summer glory. Keeping perennials standing tall through winter is not only decorative it insulates the soil and acts as a home for beneficial insects.


Image source: Pinterest.

Image source: Pinterest.


They do still need cut back though and this is a job you should tackle over the coming weeks. The key is to shed the old growth before it gets in the way of emerging Spring bulbs, otherwise you may accidentally lop the heads off the stems as you shear with abandon. I speak from painful experience. For this reason I tackle areas where I know bulbs are coming through first.


Prune Clematis


This is another gardening chore that gets people in a tiz, different groups of Clematis require different approaches to pruning but there is a simple rule of thumb you can follow without going far wrong. If the Clematis flowers in winter or late spring/early- summer then leave well alone until after flowering and then prune only to keep the plant within bounds.


If the Clematis flower in mid/late-summer then it will flower on new growth and to avoid a nest of woody, flowerless growth at the bottom with a smattering of flowers teetering at the top you should cut hard back to about to the first pair of flowering buds. This can be as low as 30-60cm on the plant. However if you haven’t pruned the clematis for a few years it may well be higher.


Cut back Raspberries


It’s time to cut autumn fruiting raspberries hard back to the ground. A nice simple job easily accomplished.



Plan Sowing Veg, Hardy and Half-Hardy Seeds


If you haven’t already done it tidy out the seed box and discard any seeds past their sow by date. Carrots seeds are best sown fresh each season so ditch any from last year.


Plan what to sow for the coming season and order seed to fill gaps. A promise most gardeners could do with making to themselves is to sow judiciously. It’s all too easy to get carried away sowing trays of seeds that don’t have an eventual home. Trays of overgrown, neglected seedlings are not a good look, so vow only to sow as many plants as you have time to look after, water, pot on and plant.


Order Summer Flowering Bulbs and Dahlias


Sitting flicking through a gorgeously photographed catalogue is a sure fire way to banish the winter blues and reassure us that winter will eventually come to an end. In this respect the Sarah Raven brochures are unbeatable, luscious garden porn to pore over with gleeful abandon.


Image source: Pinterest.

Image source: Pinterest.


Don’t forget though that less design savvy bulb suppliers also have fabulous bulbs and tubers on sale. Wherever you buy from if you want a summer garden brimming with fragrant lilies, gladioli and dahlias now is the time to get you order in.


If you enjoyed this and know of any greenfingered friends itching to get back in the garden then please ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post using the social buttons.