Spring is full of so much potential!
“Something strange blankets the city and the soul in the first days of spring. The weary, the rushed, even the dispossessed surrender to a certain nonspecific gladness. They smile at you, you smile at them — under the blessing rays of the vernal sun, we are somehow reminded of what we humans were always meant to be to each other and to this stunning, irreplaceable planet we share with innumerable other creatures.”Maria Popova, The Marginalian
You spend all winter locked inside and the sudden combination of coming out into the warm sunshine and being greeted by a garden full of happy yellow flowers is almost overwhelming.
You had forgotten it could be like this.
The daffodils seem to mock you saying, “we’ve been doing our thing all winter, now look at us. What have you been doing exactly?”
Mainly sitting and watching repeats of Gardener’s World hugging a hot water bottle.
But as soon as the days get warmer I’m out in the gardening, planning, scheming, preparing. I’m also coming up with more ways to help pollinators, be more sustainable and improve the health of my garden and my soil.
Don’t you always regret not planting MORE bulbs? I definitely do.
Although I love spring, I still like to do a spring audit and see where the gaps are. Mainly because we have to rescue so many bumblebees with sugar water. I worry that our stock of plants isn’t quite enough to keep them all going.
Yellow is the dominant colour in spring and definitely in February and March, it’s the same in my garden too. Those yellows are nice and bright for those early pollinators to find and hone in on.
I’ve been slowly trying to build up my stock of Narcissi Thalia, a delicate white daffodil that flowers from April. My front garden under the trees is full of Thalia, white tulips, white crocuses and white Muscari.
I’ve not had much luck with cyclamen or snowdrops, but continue to persevere. Bluebells I have no problem with and the banks are covered with them.
I would love more naturalising spring flowers. Naturalising just means they spread and propagate naturally. Aconites are great for this. Mine made an appearance this year as did the wild garlic I planted two years ago.
Spring Plants for Pollinators
The Erysimum can last a few years and mine flower right through winter. It is loved by butterflies too.
Pulmonaria is a British native with blue flowers that turn to pink. It spreads really well through rhizomes. Mine do brilliantly well in semi shade, in dry shade, wet shade, wet sun, pretty much anywhere. I can roughly divide and transplant it about the garden and it handles it all very well.
Planning and adapting to climate change
This year I’m changing up how I garden again, to accommodate climate change.
Previously, I would have filled my patio with pots of veg and flowers and mini fruit trees, but each year I find myself having to water more and more, using precious water. Even though I have a water butt, it quickly runs out.
That’s why in the past few weeks I’ve decided to move a lot of my pot dwellers to the open ground. My Magnolia stellata – star magnolia has been moved to the vegetable patch. My pots of grasses and heucheras have been transferred to my beds and all my Camelias have been moved under my oak trees.
I still have some roses in pots at the front of the house which I’d like to move, but need to find the right place for them.
I’ve also filled my windowboxes with drought-tolerant lavenders, but I need to raise them up to ensure they don’t drown in the summer downpours that are becoming common too in this new Northern Irish climate.
Sourcing drought tolerant plants for pots
My herb plant shelves also need a rethink. The mint collection dried out very quickly and then started to go yellow when I forgot to empty their saucers after a downpour.
This year, I think I’m going to try some alpines, wildflowers and maybe more thyme varieties.
Other good drought-tolerant plants for pots are Agapanthus, houseleeks, Salvia, Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Sedum, Eryngium ‘Blue Hobbit’, Geranium, Heuchera, Coreopsis, Yarrow, Lavender.
Some of these I think will be too overwhelming or grow too tall for my little plant shelves.
I think I’ll have more luck with Pelargoniums, Osteospermums, Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleabane) and some Scabiosa.
Creating a Pollinator friendly planter
I am also creating a massive pollinator friendly planter that sits up against a sunny patch in my garden, under the solar panels. Last year, I filled it with later flowering plants like Verbena and Sedum and grasses and fern, but this year I want it to have much more colour and flowers.
This year I’ve sourced some locally grown plants from Potters Hill Plants just up the road from me. A beautiful Catanache caerulea ‘Cupid’s dart’ with a bright purple flower similar to a cornflower. Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ and Verbena hastata ‘Rosea.’ I’m going to put in some large Digitalis foxgloves at the back and some Japanese anemone too.
Rethinking the vegetable beds
I have four raised beds…barely raised at the back of my garden, but they’re flanked by cotoneaster hedging and overshadowed by Ash trees. The roots also grow under and up into the beds taking all the water.
It makes for a very difficult vegetable growing area. My visions of being overwhelmed with veg have NEVER materialised due to this.
One year I emptied a bed completely and lined it to stop the roots invading, but it took me a good week to do and a lot of sore muscles.
This year, I’ve decided to change up these beds and give up on my dream of creating an intensive veg production farm.
Instead, I’ve turned it into more of a shade potager garden area, filled with Geums, Sedum, thyme, sage and some fruit bushes.
Spring jobs for the garden
If you need some inspiration for jobs to do around the garden this month, here are a few organic and wildlife friendly ideas:
- Use any compost as a mulch for your plants
- Protect new baby leaves and tender plants if there’s a heavy frost
- Start growing perennials for insects like Verbena, Ox-eye daisy, Phacelia tanacetifolia (which is also great for green manure)
- Refill the hot compost bin
- Plant up more comfrey to make homemade fertiliser
- Keep feeding the birds.
- Pluck out self seeding plants from cracks in your paths
Why not sign up for my newsletter where I have even more tips for April jobs, plus inspirational garden reads, check out my Steady page here where you can subscribe to the newsletter and support me too!
Images – copyright Finn Foto