Hooray, the clocks have changed and everywhere life is returning. The weather has continued to confuse and confound, but spring is now a reality. We have come through the winter wetter than we might have wished and there have been one or two casualties. For me, most notable was the single night of minus six, that totally wrecked the perfectly poised Magnolia buds, condemning them to blackness. The tree was covered in buds and all were wiped out. Still it wasn’t all gloom, Witch Hazel (Hammamaelis) has been beautiful. The plant has clusters of yellow, tubular flowers and performs out of winter and into early spring. The flowers are borne on naked wood and the plant can grow up to about eight feet, though they can be managed. Other colours are available, but the yellow is lovely.
Enough though, no time for daydreams, there is much to do, the season is upon us. The spuds can all be in, as can all of those onions and their relatives. There are plenty of vegetable plants worthy of a space now and sowing can continue quite freely, though hold off with marrows and cucumbers and unless you have access to heat. If you have cover try your luck with tomatoes, it is too early for outside, but they will stand in cold glass and taking an early punt on a couple of plants will bring some fruit by the start of July. They will stand still if we have a block of severe cold, but nine times out of ten you will get early fruit. If you have plans for an outdoor crop and have no heat, get a pinch of seed going on the windowsill.
Some early bedding is starting to appear, but do tread lightly, as always some very tender plants are available. Leave Begonias, Marigolds and Busy Lizzies well alone until May unless you plan to use them in baskets and start them undercover. If you are wanting colour, then violas and pansies are about and you can also be setting out long stay bedding like antirrhinums and dianthus. There are also some good perennials around.
And finally, it’s the last call on hard pruning, so if you have anything scruffy that needs tidying get it pruned within the next week or so,new growth is coming in a hurry.