Gardens popping with potential

It’s the time of year when our gardens might not be showing at their fulsome best – but look just a little more closely and its easy to spot plenty of budding as trees, shrubs and perennial plants begin to pop with potential.

Those who remembered to plant hyacinth and tulip bulbs back in the winter should also be enjoying the rewards of those gorgeously coloured and scented blooms about now – but if you missed out on planting your spring bulbs, you can make up for it now by planting ones that will flower from early summer.  

Go for some striking  architectural-looking Alliums or dramatic Oriental Lilies, or choose smaller blooms like Ranunculus (a showy member of the buttercup family that comes in loads of candy colours) or Anemones in rich reds, blues, pinks and purples.  For scent, nothing beats charming little Freesias, which are easy to grow and will provide cut flowers for the house as well as outdoor colour in beds, borders or pots.

February and March are also prime pruning time, so cut back on those colourful-stemmed winter shrubs such as Cornus and Salix, taking them down to their base.

Summer-flowering Clematis should also be pruned before active growth begins again, as should Wisteria, whose summer side-shoots should be cut back to two or three buds.

Winter-flowering shrubs like Mahonia and Viburnum can also be pruned once their colourful display of flowers is finished, and Heathers should be trimmed back when their flowers have disappeared.

To get the most value from your Winter pansies, dead-head them regularly to stop them going to seed, and you’ll probably be rewarded with a flush of new flowers once the weather warms up. If you are dreaming of summer rose gardens, the time to plant bare root roses is now.  Find a sunny position, and stand by for the show in a few months.  You can also plant some fragrant winter-flowering shrubs to fill in any gaps in the garden for later in the year, such as Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)  Chimonanthus (Wintersweet) and Viburnum.

If your gardening at this in-between time of year is still being done strictly from the comfort of your armchair, then it’s a good time to browse the nursery catalogues or websites, order your seeds and plug plants online, and perhaps draw up a garden plan to work out what you’ll need to create that amazing summer garden.