This is a perfect time to relax and wander around the garden and allotment on a bright sunny day, enjoying the early growth and flowers on all types of plants. Everything looks very healthy at this time of year. The winter was non existent, but very wet, so I would expect many pests and diseases to put in an appearance quite early. Some plants get weakened if they do not get sufficient cold weather to keep them totally dormant and at rest for a few months. My Robinia frisia did not appreciate this lack of dormancy coupled with the ground being continuously wet. It did not survive and will be dug out after the drift of daffodils flowering around its base has died down.
Spirea has burst into growth with fantastic bronze young shoots making it my plant of the week.
Hostas are now breaking bud and will soon let us know if we have a slug problem this year.
Berberis darwinnii is covered in bright orange flowers, timed to perfection underneath my Victoria plum tree also covered in a mass of white flowers. This combination is guaranteed to attract a couple of bees to start the pollination. My cherry Cherokee and peach Peregrine are close by and all in flower so the bees have got a fair bit of work to do. I have been helping out with some hand pollination of my peach, but the cool spring has delayed everything so peach flowers are not so early that there is a lack of flying insects around.
Flower buds on apples and pears are swelling up so it looks like it could be another good fruit year, providing nature doesn’t have any nasty surprises awaiting us.
Tulips, daffodils and crocus are all still flowering. Red dwarf early tulip Red riding Hood was planted around some Doronicums which are now all in flower together. Adrift of blue grape hyacinths is close by to complete the picture, but the latter can be quite invasive so once it has grown over its allotted space curtail its expansion by removing all the seed heads.
Hanging baskets and tubs all got topped up with a batch of very colourful winter flowering pansies which I just could not resist when visiting my local garden centre.
Down at the allotment
Overwintered cauliflower Aalsmeer is now ready to harvest. Just hope they last over several weeks. Spring cabbage April suffered in the mild winter and most plants have run up to seed, so ended up on my new compost heap. Heat treated Hytech onion sets arrived at the beginning of April and quickly got planted on a well composted area. Leeks and turnips have also been sown.
Clover and tares green manures sown in March gave a brilliant germination so hopefully they will put on some decent growth before digging in when I need the ground for my courgettes, pumpkins and sweet corn. The latter has just been sown indoors in cellular pots.
Broad beans and sweet peas planted a week ago seem to have established just fine.
My new greenhouse has now been erected. The old grape vine rods have been tied up and look very happy with new growth buds ready to burst open. Geraniums, summer salads, young summer cabbage and cauliflower plants and newly rooted chrysanthemum cuttings now fill the space.
All geraniums have been potted up into five inch pots, but I like to modify any peat free or reduced peat compost with extra grit for better drainage plus some good garden soil mixed in. Make sure you remove any worms or other beasties before you add it into the mixture. Modern composts have too much shredded bark and other organic matter that does not always suit plant growth. Chrysanthemums will also get potted up in the same mixture once they have made good root growth.
My new greenhouse is unheated so young tomatoes pricked out into small cellular pots remain indoors on a window sill. However they get a wee break on any warm sunny days when I transfer them to the greenhouse up till sunset before they return to the windowsill.
Indoors I was drying off a Christmas cactus, (Zygocactus) which had done me proud by flowering in early December then again at the end of January. They need a dormant period of a few months to rest before they start to grow in early summer. However this fellow is totally confused and is now back into full flower for the third time. He must love our Dundee climate.
Plant of the week
Spirea japonica gives us a show of colour in summer with its pink flowers, then again in autumn with its autumn colours, but my favourite time is at present in spring when the emerging shoots appear in a range of orange bronze colours. It grows a couple of feet tall, or more if you don’t prune it, but I cut it back every winter to enhance the display of young emerging shoots.
It is very hardy and grows on most soils in sun or shade. Propagate with softwood or hardwood cuttings.