Shades of spring

Our expert Kim Wilde has practical ideas to bring colour to your garden this coming season.

Shades of spring

At last there’s a hint of spring in the air for most of us and bulbs are paving the way for other beautiful blooms that should soon be erupting in our gardens – such as lovely flowering cherry trees with their clouds of pink or white blossom.
Fortunately, flowering cherries are not fussy about the type of soil they’re grown in but you will have to ensure they have a sunny position if you want them to flower well.
If you grow a selection of different varieties you could have trees in flower for several months. One of the earliest is the dwarf Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’, which grows to one metre and is covered in blossom at this time. I think it makes a lovely container plant and would be the perfect choice if you’re looking for a special gift for Mother’s Day (21 March).

My spring favourites

Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’ has beautiful, profuse white flowers in early spring. It will tolerate a shady position, but flowers better on a sunny wall.
Cornus mas has clusters of acid-yellow flowers from late winter to early spring and an eye-catching autumn display of red leaves and berries.
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is a bushy evergreen shrub with purple-pink and white flowers from midwinter to early spring. I have one in the garden and am always amazed by its powerful perfume.
Abeliophyllum distichum, tghe white forsythia, is less garish than the bright yellow kind. Plant on a warm-, south-facing wall to best appreciate the clusters of pretty, fragrant flowers.

A cut above the rest

Prune now. To produce colourful dogwood stems for next winter or to get the best out of summerflowering shrubs such as buddleja, lavatera and santolina, cut back hard.
March is the traditional time to prune most roses. Bush, miniature, standard and patio roses can all be cut back by about two-thirds to an outward facing bud.

Jobs for March

Protect young shoots from slugs, especially round clematis and herbaceous plants. Try a gritty barrier of eggshells, Gem Organic Natural Earth Slug’n’Snail repellent or Fito Slug Stoppa.
Apply a 5-10cm layer of garden compost, well-rotted manure, leaf mould or bark chups to the soil, to keep it moist and smother weeds.
Deadhead spring bulbs, such as daffodils, after flowering, but don’t cut down the foliage as the green leaves help to build up the bulb.
St Patrick’s Day on 17 March is the traditional time to plant sweet pea seeds. It’s also my little brother Marty’s birthday!) Choose containers that will accommodate their deep roots and puyt them in a sheltered spot outside. Use sticks or bamboo canes for support.