Preparing For Warmer Weather

The combination of the poor weather in February and the very fact that gardens tend to be at their least appealing this month, means the chances are yours is receiving nothing much more than a fair helping of neglect at the moment. But spring isn’t far away so get your gardening gloves on for a bit of preparation.

Start by clearing up any remaining fallen leaves, broken twigs. Twigs and woody debris are best binned or burned or perhaps even heaped up in the corner of the garden to act as a sheltering spot for wildlife, but fallen leaves, and the top growth of herbaceous perennials, can be added to the compost heap. 

When it comes to tackling herbaceous or flower borders, don’t make things look too clean and tidy, as you may well cut down on the protection that faded top-growth can provide. I tend to leave most of the remains of herbaceous plants in place until spring, but the most ugly, straggly or unkempt bits could certainly be cleared up now. Keep a particular look out for slugs and snails and collect them up while they are snoozing!

It is too early in the year to cut your lawn and indeed you should try to keep off it as far as possible, but you can clear twigs and leaves and cut back any weeds which have grown faster than the grass itself. 

You can use any pots or other containers which have been left around the garden to create spots of colour and interest by clearing them out, using fresh compost and then replanting them. If you choose temporary winter plantings such as winter flowering pansies or pompom winter daisies, then these can simply be removed when it is time to replant with summer bedding. Scrubbing down the outer surfaces of pots and containers will also help to clean them up again, because by now they have invariably accumulated a good helping of algae and soil and can look quite a mess.

Check fruit trees for signs of any dead shrivelled fruit still on the branches and cut these out, as they often harbour brown rot disease and can cause a lot of problems in the future. However these definitely shouldn’t be composted – bin or burn any you find.

Use a stiff brush to clear off surface debris from your terrace or patio and then once it is clear, if it still looks in need of a bit of a facelift, use the stiff brush or yard broom to scrub it over thoroughly. Provided freezing weather is not forecast, wash it over with a few buckets of water. 

A trip to your local garden centre is bound to give you plenty of ideas for what’s looking good at this time of the year. Some of my favourites include the small trees or shrubs which have a delicious fragrance during the winter months. These include winter sweet, hamamelis (witch hazel) and sarcococca. You can now buy pots of snowdrop bulbs which are not far from flowering so ‘cheat’ a little and pop a few of these into the ground. Winter flowering heathers and winter flowering pansies can also be used to great effect right now.

Visit Pippa’s website www.pippagreenwood.com for the ‘Grow Your Own with Pippa Greenwood’ veg growing system , biological controls, fleece, copper tape and lots more besides.

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