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!

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