Spring is an uplifting and hopeful time of year for many of us as we watch the natural world burst into life.
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, many gardeners will be busy sowing seeds and preparing their flower borders and vegetable patches.
In March you can start planting some summer-flowering bulbs (gladioli and lilies). If the soil is warm enough and not too wet you can also begin sowing early vegetables (broad beans, sprouts, cabbages, onions, early potatoes, early carrots and spinach).
Early spring is also a good time for pruning, cutting back winter shrubs and getting on top of weeds early by covering them with a layer of mulch.
Even if you have a small garden you can create an eye-catching display of spring blossom. The key to success is choosing the right trees or shrubs for the space you’ve got. Unless you’re planting your tree during the dormant season between November and March, it’s best to buy container-grown plants.
Choosing the best blossom tree for your garden
Are you inspired to plant your own blossom tree?
Manchurian Siberian crab apple (Malus baccata var. mandshurica)
This small to medium-sized (up to 12m) apple tree flowers from late April into May and is known for its fragrant white blossom and delicious autumn fruits. Another advantage is that it requires only basic tree husbandry with little or no pruning. This tree, native to eastern Asia, can also be used in orchards as a pollinator.
Dwarf Russian almond (Prunus tenella ‘Fire Hill’)
Suitable for even the smallest gardens and growing spaces, this low-growing and spreading shrub has the most beautiful, bright rose-pink blossom in April. Its Siberian origin also makes it very hardy in even the coldest areas.
Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum)
A large shrub or small tree with a big reputation for bountiful, pink pea-like flowers. This is the perfect choice for a small garden, although its history is at odds with its beauty. This is reputedly the same species of tree from which one of the 12 Apostles, Judas Iscariot, was hanged.
Cultivated pear (Pyrus communis)
There are around 1,000 cultivated varieties of the common garden pear. The flowers appear in April and don’t vary greatly from one variety to another, so base your choice on the size or quality of fruit. Pruning in summer and winter helps the tree keep its shape and improves the blossom and quality of fruit.
Kanzan cherry (Prunus ‘Kanzan’)
Prunus Kanzan (pictured left) is the most popular and readily available of the Japanese flowering cherries. This vigorous and wide-spreading tree grows quickly to over 10m in height. Its abundant flowers are the sweetest sugar pink and it also displays dazzling marmalade-orange autumn colour.
Discovery apple (Malus domestica ‘Discovery’)
Best known for its rosy-red apples, this small tree has the added benefit of lovely pure white blossom from late April. For small garden spaces, choose one grown on a small rootstock to reduce the need for drastic pruning later on.
If you have a small garden, patio or terrace then container growing could be for you.
- Plants in containers are a bit like pets – they need regular care and attention, especially feeding and watering and a helpful neighbour to take care of them when you’re away.
- Spring bulbs are great for growing in containers because they can be replanted each year with complementary colours.
- Herbs such as parsley, basil and thyme can be placed near the kitchen door for easy access.
- Perennials and even small shrubs and trees can be grown in containers, but species choice is important so make sure you do your research before you buy.
- Using the right soil or compost for container plants is important. This varies depending on the type of plant but most perennials thrive in a peat-free compost mixed with grit or sand to improve drainage.
Hedges and lawns
Only start trimming hedges after the chicks of nesting birds have fledged. At this time of year, you should also check hedges, shrubs and plants for signs of pests and disease. Keep an eye out for aphids, damaging beetles and grubs.
If you have a lawn, you may want to join the growing trend of leaving it uncut through May to attract bees and other pollinators. You could also plant wildflower plugs to add colour and provide food for pollinating insects.
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