IT'S great to get out on a fine day and enjoy a tidy up around
the garden in preparation for spring.
Drains may be dug to
cope with waterlogged areas and repairs to outdoor structures
and pathways can be carried out. Remove seedling weeds in flower
beds and borders and apply a top-dress of home produced compost
or wood chipping to improve the soil condition and reduce water
loss later in the season.
Prepare seed beds in the vegetable
garden when conditions permit for early sowings and prepare
early potatoes such as Dunluce and Concorde for chitting.
shrubs require regular pruning in order to remain healthy and
evenly shaped. Shrubs are grown for their flowers and foliage
and in some cases for their fruit. Appropriate pruning will make
all the difference. Not all shrubs require yearly pruning,
especially those grown as single specimens. Over crowded shrubs
require fairly drastic pruning to prevent them growing into each
other, leaving them weak and misshapen.
The most important
aspect of pruning is to remove all dead or diseased wood,
otherwise the risk of disease spores multiplying and spreading
to healthy wood may cause extensive damage and in some cases
death of the whole shrub. Pruning cuts should be made cleanly,
leaving no ragged edges or crushed bark. Thin out weak growths,
leaving only well ripened healthy branches, which will carry
this year's flowers, foliage, etc.
Bulbs that have been forced
for Christmas can be saved when the flower and foliage fade.
Remove them from the house and keep somewhere frost free to
allow the foliage to completely die back. Then they may be
planted outside in April where they will flower again next
The Hamamelis or witch hazels are one of the most
popular winter flowering shrubs or small tree. These deciduous
plants are grown for their autumn leaf colour and their sweetly
scented winter flowers. They flourish in full sun to part shade
on a peaty acid soil. Their spidery like yellow, orange or red
flowers are thickly clustered along leafless branches from
December to March. Some exquisite varieties to look out for
include Hamamelis Mollis pallida, Jelena and Diane.