The anticipation of spring is such a wonderful thing.
We all have a biophilic need for the outdoors and greenery. As soon as bulbs start pushing up their noses through the once cold soil, and leaves start to emerge on trees there is no better time to start getting outdoors and enjoying the benefits of gardening.
Plan, plan, plan!
We all know of the benefits, and there is now a lot of research, that gardening has on our health and wellbeing. Spring is a busy time in the garden, whether you whether you live in a flat or house, or share a garden or an allotment. Whether you are filling pots, borders, window boxes or introducing plants inside the house, the first thing is to sit down and make a plan of what you want. With a little research, and this is where the Internet is a great help, you can form a clear picture of what you need, before you go to the garden centre or nursery, or buy plants online.
It is very easy to be seduced by the colour and textures of plants on display, so by knowing what you want means the end result will be better and probably cost you less. Also, think about the aspect:
- Will the plants be in the sun or shade or a mixture of both?
- If inside, will the plants be near a window or in a dark corner?
This is also a good time to think about the natural world and think about how plants grow in the wild; again, the Internet is great for this. If you are putting together a pot inside or outside in a shady area, think woodland plantings, such as fern, bluebell, anemone, hosta, hellebore, primula, hydrangea, and epimedium.
If a pot is in full sun, or the border is in sun for most of the day then think of sunny climates, like the Mediterranean or South America, with plants such as agapanthus, cistus, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and tulip. If you want more permanent planting then go for perennials, evergreens, and shrubs. If you are keen to replace planting regularly then go for seasonal planting.
Spring is also a good time to feed the plants. Granular feed is easy to apply; sprinkle it around plants and gently work into the soil. A slow-release fertiliser will release the right nutrients at the right time. There are fertilisers for borders, pots and indoor plants in garden centres and nurseries. It’s also the ideal time to have a good clean up of any winter debris, sweep pathways, clean old pots, cold frames, and greenhouse. Remember to recycle wherever you can.
Mulching the soil with compost or well-rotted manure will also keep the weeds down, reduce the need for watering and improve the soil structure. Install water butts to store rainwater for throughout the year. As soils start to warm up and as the temperature rises, March and April is a great time to start off plants from seed. This is a cheap way to produce many plants, but do not sow too many at once. Half-hardy and hardy annuals are a great choice, such as Ammi, cornflower, sunflower, and cosmos. Start indoors in seed trays or old margarine tubs with holes in for drainage and seed compost. When two true leaves emerge plant on into 7-9cm pots to grow on. When large enough plant outdoors in borders or pots.
If space is very tight then think about the vertical. Either grow climbers up a support or have a go at vertical planting. Lettuces, radishes, and strawberries work really well in vertical planting mediums.
The main thing is to have fun and to enjoy being outside either alone or with others and feel the positive effects on your health and wellbeing. Give it a go!
Post by Mark Lane
Groundwork Health, Wellbeing and Community Ambassador