The great British obsession with the weather is extremely relevant when it comes to gardening and the various difficulties it presents. Many communities have suffered flooding in recent months, while severe gales have also taken their toll.
As the buds of spring appear, you should assess your garden in terms of identifying and repairing any structural damage. Be it fences, shed roofs, damaged trees, or even garden furniture and trampolines that were dislodged during the winter gales, all need sorting.
Gardens may be designed to provide shelter and privacy, as well as offering seasonal interest and this can be achieved through the use of hedging or barrier plants that cope with the elements. Natural plantings and fences should be ideally fifty percent porous otherwise wind speed and turbulence can increase within the garden causing further damage.
Everyone bemoans the never ending rain which has resulted in saturated soils, making gardening difficult, particularly on heavy soils. In the garden lawns become muddy if worked on and any cultivation becomes a messy and tiresome business. Working the soil when too wet may result in structural damage and should be worked when less sticky. Gardens are best dug in the autumn, with farmyard manure incorporated where appropriate and ideally should the soil surface should be left lumpy for the frost to break it down and now is an ideal time to incorporate good garden compost which has broken down. This opens up the soil and makes it easier to work.
It never ceases to amaze me how hardy and durable many of our garden plants are. Obviously, many of our plants are annuals or are not winter hardy, with some succumbing to rots, frost damage, pests and disease and numerous other disorders and on occasion our own errors and misjudgement.
Climate change looks to be an issue and while parts of the UK are suffering drought conditions in summer, in Perthshire it appears rather different and our plant selection process hasn’t changed too much.
Spring is always a welcome time of the gardening year and a time to look forward and plan for the current growing season, with a view to longer term projects.
All the best gardeners are creative, hardworking, patient and content - well not always perhaps, as there are always frustrations to contend with.
The aforementioned weather determines so much of what we do and when we do it in the garden and so you must carry out tasks when the conditions are favourable, but do not be tempted to plant and sow seeds too early.
Many of you will have been to visit garden centres for ideas in recent weeks and months, as well as the must do refreshments and cakes, but unless you have a heated glasshouse, the purchase of summer bedding and container plants so early will be disastrous and expensive.
Some will have facilities to bring on their own seedlings, however I would recommend ordering plugs and seedlings which you can arrange through various suppliers online and to arrive at a time when you can grow them on in an unheated glasshouse or polytunnel.
Other things to be considering as the days are lengthening could be, forking the lawn, applying lawn sand to kill off the moss, cut the grass lightly with the blades set at a height so as not to scalp the lawn. Finalise any digging and plant at the correct time, as the spring months can produce some sunshine, with the odd late flurry of snow and night time frosts.
Ensure you do not overdo things, as many won’t have done much in the garden since the autumn so pace yourself, be patient and enjoy the joys and floral beauty that spring offers.