New growth, sprouting and seedlings – Easter is the perfect time to get back out in the garden
THE heart is pounding, the palms are sweaty, the excitement is palpable .
No, it's not the closing minutes of an All Ireland final or that Grand slam defining penalty kick, I'm talking about taking a walk around your local garden centre. Nurseries and garden centres are absolutely bursting with plants and ideas at this time of year and it's a huge and enlightening pleasure just strolling around one. There is plenty of talk about the economy at the moment but here the green shoots are quite literally visible.
Easter is falling nearly as late as it can this year which is perfect timing for the gardener, both the keen and reluctant alike, to start getting that garden space back into shape for the summer. It's also the chiropractors' favourite time of year so don't be too gung-ho out there, I'm a great believer in little and often. A few hours here and there over the next couple of weeks can achieve a lot and also encourage the less enthusiastic of us to get some enjoyment from gardening.
The choices available can be a little overwhelming at the moment. Trays of bedding and vegetable seedlings pleading buy me!, shrubs and trees on a daily basis sprouting flowers and lush new growth. Roses and herbaceous plants are even more seductive as they seem to grow by the hour with a freshness of foliage that is hard to resist. This is before you get to the nitty gritty of composts, fertilisers and weedkillers. Always ask for some advice, there should always be someone on hand to help out. If you are after something specific rather than just being on a browsing trip, try to arrive at a garden centre when it is likely to be less busy so staff have more time to help with your needs. Garden centres can be great days out with most offering cafe facilities these days, with many set out as decoratively as real gardens.
On the subject of real gardens a lot of open gardens will be reopening at Easter after the winter break. There is nowhere better to see plants i n action than in a real growing environment. The skills of plant combinations and colour schemes come into their own. They're a great place to see the ultimate sizes of mature plants that is not always obvious when looking at plants in pots. Like garden centres they offer a great day out, loads of inspiration and the ubiquitous but always welcome coffee shops.
If you are really not into garden work but still like your garden to look well there is still time to contact a garden professional to get things set up for this summer. It tends to be the busiest time of year now for all landscapers and professional gardeners but whether it's a complete overhaul, a new patio, the annual tidy up, or to arrange a regular maintenance program, start the process now and reap the benefits this summer. I can't stress enough the importance of good regular maintenance for a garden. I have designed and installed many gardens over the last 30 years and all those that have professional maintenance carried out on them are better able to stand the test of time.
Whatever way you intend to spend Easter bear in mind a little planning for the garden for the summer ahead. But most importantly enjoy it ! Happy gardening!