Just because the weather is a bit milder and things are beginning to peek out of the ground, gardeners imagine that it is time to get busy! Although a gardener is always looking for things to do out there, this is the time of the year when there is such a superb surge of growth going on, that it is essential to ENJOY the burgeoning of Spring and not get too busy doing stuff. Wander around with your hands behind your back, or a glass of something good in hand, and observe close up the quickening of the leaf and blossom buds; the pushing up through soil of the bulb leaves, the awakening of the dormant shrubs and phenomenal growth as nature girds its loins in response to more warmth and light.
The fact of the matter is that spring just happens. Having put in the hard yards in Autumn and mulched protectively in Winter, spring is not such a busy time in the garden. It is really only by the end of November that the garden starts to become demanding as spring growth is cut back and summer settles in.
The first leaves of the season are delicate and can be susceptible to infection due to the climatic conditions of Spring. From leaf burst, apply Shield or Super Shield and alternate them at approx 14 day intervals. These are good sprays for general use.
Those that flower in the earlier part of winter could do with a prune now. There is nothing shy about the growth of a Camellia, so dont be shy about cutting back hard.
Apply lashings of organic compost and/or a general fertilizer around the drip line of your deciduous fruit trees - preferably on a wet day - and water in well. Plant new Citrus in October after the danger of harsh frosts has passed. Do not use insecticides near fruit trees to ensure that the pollinating bees come to no harm. If the blossom is not visited by one of these industrious and invaluable creatures, the fruit will not set. In November, apply another small dressing of fertilizer to deciduous fruit trees. Mulch well to preserve moisture now that summer is on the way, but take care not to mulch around the base of the tree as this could cause collar rot.
Winter flowering shrubs can be pruned once flowering has finished. Always cut back a bit harder than the desired shape you want as new growth is vigorous and, in no time at all, you will have to do it again.
Watch for snails and slugs as dormant perennials peep out from the soil. They are at their most tender at this time and are a delicious gourmet meal for these slimy creatures. They especially love Hostas. Despatch them by using your preferred method. Some perennials really please with a prolonged flowering period if you take the trouble to dead head them.
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