At last there is life and hope in our gardens. There are buds and bulbs emerging, hellebores in full glory and even birdsong feels brighter. There’s lots to do, so let’s get started.
I like seeing my hellebores and they can often be smothered by their old and tired leaves – I always remove the leaves completely and let the flowers shine through.
Keep going with your roses, pruning out all the dead, damaged and crossing branches and then cut the rest by a third to a half – try to cut just above an outward facing bud or to a leaf node and remove all the leaves on the plant and from the ground. Don’t cut into the mainframe unless the wood is damaged. Mulch well and wait to feed when there is good strong growth.
We can also start removing the old growth on our perennials – I can’t wait to do this! It may be worth checking what is coming through at this time. My penstemons took a real battering this winter and as I write in mid Feb, I can’t see any young growth. Fingers crossed they are not dead! There are some signs of salvias, sidalcea’s, nepeta, alliums, but a bit early to see anything for echinaceas, Agastache, heleniums. Mulching is also a good idea and if the soil is workable a slow-release fertiliser is a good shout.
If you have yew topiary or yew hedging, we can trim now but please don’t be tempted to touch your box plants. The general advice these days is to wait until late May when risk of frost has passed. Around the date of the RHS Chelsea Flower show is an ideal marker for this job.
Regarding box plants and how to keep them safe. They need air circulating around them so don’t let leaves settle inside on top or around. If possible trim back plants that crowd them and try to avoid resting anything up against them. They will start growing in April when we’ll feed them. There are other plants to consider instead of box if you’ve lost some on the way – what about Ilex Crenata or Lonicera nitida and depending on the situation there’s lavender or santolina.