Garden Notes

Each year we look forward to spring to see the end of the dark gloomy days of winter. This is when the garden starts to wake up and the first signs of colour appear. You’ll soon be caught up in a frenzy of seed sowing, growing, and nurturing your garden as it comes back to life.

Dazzling Daffodils

Daffodils and narcissi make a splendid show in spring, but to ensure a dazzling display next year, follow these three simple steps.

  1. Deadhead as soon as they have flowered to stop them setting seed.
  2. Leave the foliage standing for six weeks before tidying up and
  3. If your daffs produce leaves but no flowers, then they either need feeding or thinning out. If in doubt, do both!

Tulip Celebrations at Hever Castle

Feel uplifted by over 40,000 tulips proudly standing to attention and providing a visual feast of spring colour. A kaleidoscope of brightly coloured parrot, Darwin, Peony and Triumph Tulips will declare that spring has well and truly arrived at Hever Castle & Gardens this April. Head Gardener Neil Miller, a fan of bold bright colours, has selected a palette for 2022 that celebrates spring in all its glory and heralds the start of warmer days to come.

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Sweet Success

Home-grown sweetcorn cooked within minutes of picking is simply the sweetest and juiciest sweetcorn you’ll ever taste. A favourite allotment crop, its statuesque, leafy structure and easy-to-grow nature make it great to plant in bold blocks in your borders, or as a productive screen to divide up areas of your vegetable plot. Sow seeds indoors in small pots on a sunny windowsill in a warm room. When all danger of frost has passed, plant your seedlings in a grid formation about 50cm apart. Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated so plants need to be in close proximity. Water and mulch regularly throughout the growing season.

Summer Flowering Bulbs

Now is the time to plant summer fl owering bulbs to ensure a magnificent splash of colour come the warmer months. Here are some of our favourites:
Allium (Purple Sensation). A very popular choice, but it is one of the best and it self-seeds generously.
Canna. Invaluable for bringing a touch of the tropics to your borders. Not totally hardy, so mulch in autumn.
Dahlia. A must-have in the summer garden, they make wonderful cut flowers.

Plants to Prune Now

Spring is, perhaps surprisingly, one of the most important times for pruning.

Tender shrubs: Mediterranean shrubs such as lavender need protection from their top growth in winter, so trim in spring to make way for new growth.

Grasses: Deciduous grasses can be cut back from March to April.

Spring flowering shrubs: Shrubs that flower on the previous season’s growth (such as weigela below) benefit from being cut back immediately after flowering.

Foliage shrubs: Encourage the growth of large, vibrant leaves and colourful winter stems by cutting plants such as dogwoods back hard every year in early spring.

What to do Now

  • Keep weeds under control.
  • Protect fruit blossom from late frosts. Most top fruit and soft fruit are very hardy but once they start into growth in spring, flowers and buds are especially vulnerable to frost and may need protection to crop well.
  • Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
  • Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds.
  • Start to feed citrus plants.
  • Increase the water given to houseplants.
  • Feed hungry shrubs and roses.
  • Sow new lawns or repair bare patches.
  • Prune fig trees.
  • Divide bamboos and waterlilies.

How to Make the Best Compost

  • Separate ingredients: Remove leaves from other compost ingredients and use for leafmould.
  • Get a good balance: Too much carbon (woody stems etc.) and the composting process will be too slow, but too much nitrogen (grass cuttings etc.) and you’ll get a horrible-smelling sludge. For every load of green material, mix in the same volume of dry material such as straw or cardboard.
  • Turn the heap: Mix it up as often as possible. Once every ten days is ideal.
  • Don’t let it dry out: Damp the heap down with the hose if it gets too dry.

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