I'm still a beginner gardener really so I apologise if this is a really stupid question. I need to do a lot of renovation work on my garden this year so I've been looking up the best time to do things so that I don't cause any damage to plants. I've come across the following tips online which seem to be a useful guide:
So for example in early Spring you should prune roses and sow hardy annuals outdoors etc. My assumption is that traditionally early Spring counts as March - when the daffodils and primroses are flowering. However in my area (South) the daffodils are already beginning to flower in places, so does that mean we're beginning to hit early Spring like weather already? Can you use the plants flowering earlier than they should as a sign that the season is slightly shifting, and therefore could do some of these jobs earlier than usual? Or should you stick strictly to March for early Spring jobs, April for mid Spring jobs etc? It may be a silly way of thinking of it, but I thought that there might be occasions where you could end up holding off pruning a particular plant because that's what a gardening calendar has told you, and could cause it more damage because it's already started growing more than usual due to warmer weather at an earlier time - or does it not matter really?
I was just interested in hearing thoughts. I'm guessing after a while you get to learn the best time anyway for each plant just from experience.
It's not silly at all, and you are quite right, you can't just do things by the calendar.
The longer you live with your garden the better you will get to know it , and come to have some idea of 'normal' but that will vary according to lots of things. How far north or south you are is one obvious factor but there are other things too.
My garden is high up (1200 ft) My daffodils are a week or so later than those at the bottom of the hill a couple of miles away, and those always flower a few days later than the ones a few miles farther west.
But even in my own garden there are some daffs that regularly flower first, because they get more sun, and last because they get least. I call the late ones my Chelsea daffs, because they are always still in flower in Chelsea week at the end of May!
On the other hand I don't always suffer from late, hard frosts as badly as those at the bottom of the hill, because cold air is heavier than warm and so tends to slide downhill. But if your garden, or even a small part of it, is at the bottom of a slope, or if the flow of air is impeded by a wall or bank, you may have a 'frost pocket' where only tough plants will thrive.
So experience will help a bit, and you have to use your judgement, taking into consideration where the advice comes from, and whether the reasons for the 'when to do it' applly. But even so, given British weather, and the increasing occurrence of 'abnormal ' weather, a fair amount of luck comes into it too.
I'll wager that there is no-one on this forum who has never been caught out
Course "guides" are only just that really, as Buttercupdays says, its trial and error. You can put in your postcode on a site it supposedly tells you when you will get the last frost in your area so you can plant stuff like spuds., and tender plants. My first earlies (salad spuds) say plant in March, BUT not before frosts have finnished, I am in the SE, 10 minutes from the sea near the Souith Downs, so sheltered, and my summer bedding doesnt go out until the beginning of June. I certainly wouldnt say now is early spring, especially as yesterday was snowing and icey. If possible have a chat to neighbours who garden, see what they do, and see what they have planted. Lets have some pictures of your garden Lucid, what renovations are you planning to do?
Thanks very much for your helpful replies Buttercupdays and nanny Beach. Yes I will hold off doing anything right away as it is still pretty cold around here. Was mostly curious as to whether you can (or whether it's a good idea to) use lots of plants in flower as signs of a change of season.
Regarding the renovations, we had a very sad year last year as we had to have our dog put to sleep unexpectedly just before the Christmas. He loved being in the garden so much and was always there when I was trying to do my work on it, so I kind of let things slip over the last year as didn't feel as enthusiastic for it. But as a result it's gotten quite weedy in the beds and the lawn, and there's bits that had never been properly finished. My first plan is to tackle all of the weeds in the beds, and then do relevant pruning if the weather is warm enough. The lawn needs weeding and some Spring care, then further levelling and over-seeding as it's got bumps in it in certain areas.
The garden currently looks like this (please excuse all the rubbish dotted about - that is also on the list for getting sorted!):
The South facing beds on the left will hopefully look like this in the Summer:
I've got to remove the buddlejah as that was a self seeded plant. I am going to try a Euonymus fortunei 'Silver Queen' instead in the hope it will fill out the area behind the pond a little.
The North facing beds on the right have not been very good so far. I envisaged climbers across the trellis but haven't had much luck. So we're going to reduce down the size of the beds and put some compost bins in the space between them. I'm going to renovate prune the honeysuckles and add a Clematis Montana. Then for any remaining space plant some ferns, foxgloves and bergenia, and have it more as a green shady area. We've got a holly and pyracantha planted in one of the beds and they are growing but extremely slowly.
The brand new plan is that we're going to add a couple of apple trees as we want some extra attractions for the birds, as well as fruit for us. One is going to go towards the end of the South facing bed, out in to the garden a little so that it gives some privacy eventually. The other is hopefully going to go nearer the house end on the right side so that it doesn't shade the South facing beds. Hopefully those will work out. Then the eventual plan for the bottom of the garden is a workshop/shed that would be screened off a little by an apple tree.
So there's plenty to be getting on with once the weather begins to dry up a little. For now the soil is too wet to work on.
Might I suggest one of the first things you do is get some sort of seating out there. I would put a bench or maybe an arbor myself. Having a place to sit and rest with your cup of tea does make a massive difference to how nice gardening is, especially you are at the lots of digging stage.
Thanks Learnincurve. Yes we've been back and forth on our plans. We had been considering having a pergola/arbour type seating area in between the two beds on the North side (opposite the pond). Then I was even considering a mini self built Summerhouse to go there but I think that would be a little ambitious and probably would take up a lot of space. Because the climbers haven't been going too well in those beds my partner was a bit unsure about a pergola because if we had one we'd want climbers over it etc. So we were going to return to our original plan of patio at the house end (area is out of view in the photo). But now you've got me thinking again as that would be a nice place to be able to sit and hopefully watch birds at the pond. It's a good job I've got lots of work to do before any of these plans come in to full effect! We've got portable garden chairs so at least have a seat to grab when working for now.
We have a forum page for us animal lovers, so was very sorry to hear about your dog, you have the makings of a very nice garden there.
Thanks Nanny Beach. It's been a difficult year without him around, but I hope I can get the garden to where it should be so that it attracts some more wildlife and birds this year.