A little general maintenance and preparation now will pay dividends when spring arrives
Some general maintenance and preparation now will pay dividends when spring arrives. A spell of clement weather earlier this week prompted me to pull on my wellies and get out in the garden.
It marked the beginning of my 2019 gardening year, and as I started pottering about, a sense of wellbeing and optimism emerged – gardening was working its magic as usual.
As I cleared decaying leaves from the beds, I could see the green shoots of early bulbs starting to push through. This is always a thrilling moment as one witnesses the beginnings of a new growth cycle that will take us through to next autumn.
Alas, it’s not just the bulbs growing – there were plenty of weeds emerging as well, encouraged by milder temperatures.
every year a different weed species dominates my garden and it looks like petty spurge (euphorbia peplus) is taking that title already. It’s easy enough to pull out but it’s best to wear gloves as, like other members of the euphorbia family, the stems contain a burning milky sap.
There are lots of unwanted grass seedlings in the borders as well, and much as I’d like to decimate them quickly with a hoe, I don’t want to damage emerging tips of bulbs so this has to be done by hand.
It’s a job I’ll have to return to over the coming weeks.
of course, temperatures could, and probably will, plummet during January and February so if you haven’t wrapped up tender specimens, now is the time to do so.
my tree ferns are several feet in height and this gives them some protection as the growing point is well off the ground, but I will put some straw or fleece in the crown to make sure the new fronds will not be killed off by sustained low temperatures or snow. my Acacia dealbata is covered with masses of yellow buds which I look forward to seeing open soon. The very good summer of 2018 will have boosted flower bud development in shrubs and trees so, fingers crossed, they make it through to flowering and don’t get decimated by heavy frosts.
I took the opportunity while it was dry to start digging over the vegetable patch in preparation for spring planting. It wasn’t long before I was joined by our resident robin, hopping about in the hope of a few worms coming his way. Next job will be to visit the local stables which supplies well-rotted horse manure, and start spreading it in the potato patch and through the mixed borders.
I was also delighted to see the hellebores waking up and starting to flower. A little maintenance is required now which involves cutting away last year’s decaying leaves while taking care not to snip away any new shoots of buds.
If you don’t have any, this is a good time to purchase them and they will keep going until April or even may – it’s hard to think of another plant that gives such good flowering value.
If you are out and about, there are some choice plants to admire at the moment – the witch hazels are producing their spidery flowers and Chimonanthus praecox’s waxy lemony blooms emit a beautiful scent at this time of year.
So, whenever the weather permits, get yourself outdoors and enjoy nature’s rejuvenating powers!
Wintersweet (chimonanthus) would cheer anyone in winter’s darker days
Hellebores are among the first flowers to brighten a garden
This year’s garden scourge – petty spurge
Witch hazel flower in full bloom
A flowering mimosa (acacia dealbata) in all its glory