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Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

A look at spring gardening

 The spring-flowering  Anemone blanda (Gillian Goodson Designs)

The spring-flowering Anemone blanda (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Valentine’s Day has been and gone and Easter is yet upon us. The weather can be quite the tease in March. Some days when spring is definitely in the air and in our step, and others of continual low, dark skies luring us to catch that flight abroad. 

It is hard to think of March plants without thinking of daffodils, forever synonymous with William Wordsworth and the poem we first encountered as a child, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, its imagery appreciated in adulthood. Although not yet bred in Wordsworth’s time, Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’ is a keeper. It has several golden, trumpet-shaped flowers on each stem and stands at around 15cm. A dear friend gave me a few in a little pot and it’s a treasure to see them flower each year. They are also wonderful naturalised in grass and need very little care. 

For lovers of trees, and no you don’t have to be tree hugger, be on the lookout for Prunus x yedoensis (the Yoshino Cherry). It has stunning, blush pink-white, almond- scented flowers and elegant, gently arching
branches. It is not a tree for small gardens as it has a wide-spreading habit. It flowers from late March through to April and is much admired at the Chelsea Flower Show although those specimens would have been in cold store to delay bloom. 

A newly available shrub is Sarcococca hookeriana var. hookeriana ‘Ghorepani’. Quite the mouthful! Like other Christmas Box, it has evergreen foliage, inconspicuous creamy-white flower clusters and is deliciously scented. It is low maintenance, fully hardy and tolerates deep shade. This new variety flowers from December through to March. Place it near an entrance or pathway. 

For those who prefer something a little different to daffodils, try Anemone blanda (available in white, pink or blue). The flowers appear in late February/early March through to late April/May. Oh to paint those dark skies with its sapphire blue! 

There is much to do in the garden and gardeners up and down the country will be a flutter as it’s time to give your garden a spring clean. Burn calories forking over borders, weeding and mulching. A great time to prune roses, dogwoods, butterfly bushes, cut back ornamental grasses and remove over-wintering seed heads. Sow hardy annuals such as cosmos, wildflowers, lettuce, broad beans, spinach and parsnips. Don’t forget to protect new spring growth from slugs and snails. While thriving in activity, the last two lines of Wordsworth come to mind:

'And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.’