The Irish Mail on Sunday
SPRING IS IN THE AIR
Give your roses some love and perk up the pond because...
Now Easter is over, it’s time for even the most fair weathered gardener to step outside their back door and give their plot some attention. From perking up roses to planting summer containers, here are eight jobs that will help to rejuvenate your garden and prepare it for the growing year ahead.
Mind the gaps
For a summer spectacle, plug gaps in beds and borders. Among perennials that will provide longlasting colour are crocosmias, hardy geraniums and achilleas.
Salvia ‘Amistad’, a fairly recent introduction, will produce purple flowers from May until October.
If you have space for something larger, plant summer-flowering shrubs such as roses, hydrangeas and hardy fuchsias.
No more rose woes
Nothing beats roses in their summer pomp, but they will fail to deliver without some attention.
Look around the base for suckers (vigorous underground shoots) and twist them off by hand.
Ensure plenty of strong, healthy growth by watering regularly and scattering rose fertiliser granules around plants.
Keep out trespassers
Warmer weather heralds the arrival of many pests, so check your plants for trespassers.
Look under leaves of lilies for red lily beetles and their larvae and pick off shiny rosemary beetles from sage, lavender and rosemary.
Take pre-emptive action against slugs and snails by scattering organic pellets.
Blackfly and sap-sucking aphids reproduce rapidly and will deform leaves and stems. They are easy to despatch by rubbing off with your fingers.
Wash away winter muck
A combination of moss, algae and dirt from boots can leave patios and paths unsightly and slippery.
Shift it quickly by blasting with a pressure washer on a high setting, working methodically across the area. Set to a lower pressure when cleaning decking and keep the nozzle 6in away from boards to prevent splintering.
Or scrub with soapy water and a broom with stiff bristles. White vinegar is useful for getting rid of more stubborn stains.
Spring-clean your pond
Make ponds sparkle by skimming duckweed off the surface with a small net and use a cane to twirl out blanket weed, leaving the stuff on the side for a few days to allow any wildlife to return.
Rejuvenate aquatic plants by lifting out containers and splitting rootballs into smaller pieces. Add some new plants if the pond is looking empty, aiming to cover a third of the surface with foliage to reduce direct sunlight, which prevents algae growth.
Add colour with containers
Now is the time to plant up pots and containers to add colour to patios, balconies and decks using seasonal bedding plants such as petunias, pelargoniums and busy Lizzies.
Fill containers with multi-purpose compost, leaving a 2in gap at the top for watering. For a balanced display, place taller varieties at the back with compact ones in front and dot trailers around the sides. Water well and put in a light, sheltered spot indoors to establish.
Spruce up wood
Inspect fences and other upright wooden structures to ensure they are ready to face the season. Prevent those that are in a poor state from toppling by strengthening rotting posts with concrete or metal spurs. Replace broken slats and damaged gravel boards on fences, and screw any loose parts back into place. Extend timber life by treating with paint, wood stain or oil.
Time to sow vegetables
Seeds of beetroot, broad beans, carrots, French beans and peas can be sown directly in soil now it’s warming up.
Indoors, start seeds of tender veggies, such as tomatoes and cucumbers and herbs. Sow in pots of seed compost, covering them with a thin layer.