The background of brown and grey that we have had over the last few months of winter have given way to fresh new green leaves on shrubs with splashes of bright colours from bulbs especially late flowering Narcissus and many colourful Tulips.
Now the perennials start into growth and some give early season colour. In my garden where there is light shade in a north facing area and in full sun I have many self seeded Aquilegia or Grannies Bonnet. These are trouble free plants if your soil remains relatively moist. Slugs seem not to bother them, they don’t take up much space, seed easily and come in a range of colours. The stems will get to 75cm tall and they flower over a long period. Let the flower heads go to seed and shake the dried seeds in the garden then wait for them to germinate.
Spring is also the time you will see Aubretia draped over walls and rockeries. This flower reminds me of my Grandma who loved the small alpine like flowers of spring. They form mats of very low foliage and do best in dry areas on walls or in pots. To keep them looking good for next year, cut back the flowering shoots hard after flowering.
Shrubs also get going in April and if you love the bright yellow colours of Daffodils and Forsythia, how about the cheerful Kerria. This produces long stems 2m high studded with single or double bright yellow flowers. It expands by sending out suckers, similar in habit to Raspberry canes but if allowed room, will give a splash of colour as you can see from the photo. Cut back old stems after flowering keeping younger stems for next year. Will grow in any soil except light sandy soils.
Magnolias are the super stars of spring with their cupped flowers in white or pink. Fleeting but worth growing for the pleasure of their rich blooms. Very hardy trees or large shrubs but as the flowers are damaged by frost and wind they need a site sheltered from early morning sun and strong wind. Soil should be slightly acid or neutral and preferably moisture retentive. Be warned, some can become large, wide trees so go for small varieties such as Susan or Magnolia stellata varieties which are more suitable for smaller gardens.
Plenty to get on with in the vegetable garden. If you planted early potatoes, make sure you earth up the new shoots as they show to protect from frost. Plant lettuce, radishes, peas and carrots in the soil under cloches to keep temperatures high enough for germination. Indoors you can plant seeds of tomatoes, marrows and courgettes in pots on a windowsill or wait till May when temperatures are higher.