What to do in your garden this Spring to prepare for Summer
Papillon Garden Designer, Zuzana Habsudova, talks through Spring tasks that you can start now to prepare your garden for the summer ahead...she talks plants, pots, colours, paint and wildlife in our latest blog:
When the bright whites, blues and yellows start poking through the 50 shades of grey in our gardens, one can feel the heart jump. This cheery moment in spring kicks our brain and we start dreaming of our outdoor spaces transformed into picture perfect.
This is the exciting time for reshuffling the planting borders and refreshing colours on our fences, sheds and furniture. But this is also the time of dreaded chores, as weeds start pushing through, and patios await cleaning and sheds clearing.
If we have no budget for ripping the garden out and starting afresh, we have to make it work within the resources we have. And if Carol Klein or Alan Titchmarch are not our relatives, we just have to stick to our talent and handiness.
So, it is the bright hues that seem to uplift our mood, right? Well, let’s start with adding colours to our gardens then. There should be no worries of getting it wrong; it can always be repainted next year.
Think of how interior designers work with choosing a colour for wall and floor and then they match chairs and tables to it. How they use cushions and indoor pots to highlight or contrast with the walls. In the garden we have fences and sheds, offset with planting and furniture.
Use colourful plants in your gloomiest corners
Any enthusiastic gardener is eager to get into the soil right after winter, because they know a good preparation is the key before any planting can take place. But what if you lack just that tiny bit of excitement to start with weeding, digging, feeding and scrubbing?
Let’s rethink the traditional spring clean. Don’t kill that keenness the spring bulbs sparkled in you. Go to a garden centre and pick a few flowers that smile at you. Plant them in your gloomiest corners, or pots. Start enjoying them, as you do, weed around.
Then weed a bit further. Clean that dead foliage left them from winter and prune that overgrown shrub in the way. Split that over-sized perennial and plant its offspring in a pot. If desired, enlarge the borders. Buy that Scottish-proof plant you’ve just admired in the magazine and mix fruit shrubs into ornamental borders. Scatter annual seeds to fill any gaps before plants start touching each other.
Now repair that broken fence and give it a new coat. The darker it is, the grander the plants in front of it will appear. And don’t just go for dark brown or grey. Try aubergine, olive, or navy blue. Paint trellises, frames and stick them amongst planting. Fix mirrors on the walls to ricochet the effect.
Then sit down and ponder over the colours of your furniture, while someone comes to clean your paving.
If you like the neutral, rustic looking furniture, add colour with outdoor cushions and carpets that can be left out all summer long. Flowerpots can help to bolt the carpets down, adding waterfalls of spilling greenery.
With bold colours on your boundaries, shed and furniture, any green tones of planting will work their miracles. Just think of painting your trellis purple and planting lime-green climber (hops) on it. Or behind that forestry of green that you have, paint your wall burgundy colour. Then add reddish-purple blooms to the first image and orange-red spikes to the second.
As soil gets warmer, keep adding colour with annual herbs, fruit or veg, so that the taste buds gets satisfied too! The yellow-orange flowers of marigolds and nasturtiums, as well as the blue-stars of borage are not only edible, but also help protect your veg from pests and diseases.
Mix Veg and Fruit with Ornamental Flowers
By mixing your veg and fruit with ornamental flowers you are creating an ornamental kitchen garden that the French call potager. But the flowers can also be the ones produced by your veg. It’s usually the garlic chives that we think of when talking about flowering veg, but remember the white umbels of carrots and yellow/white blooms on brassicas when you forgot to harvest on time?
And there’s so much colour in the ordinary veg! Look at the yellow and red stems of chards or green and purple bulbs of kohlerabi. There’s purple kale leaves and lime-green seashell-looking romanesco. Just imagine these poking out through creeping purples and whites of thyme and camomile.
Trailing and running plants are also ideal for pots. Fill them with dwarf runner beans and trailing strawberries to admire the cascading flowers and later taste their produce. Stick a standard rose for fragrance or red currant for nibbling in the middle of these pots.
Pots again can be unified in colour and work as features in your garden, or they can be muted and let the plants steal the show. In that case you might think of evergreen grasses, which keep their bold hues throughout the year and their colours range from intense blue through chocolaty orange to golden green.
Protect wildlife with colour
The more cheery and ecological your garden, the more it attracts wildlife. The bees will happily work on your flowers, leaving you to enjoy your cake in peace. Predators, like birds, will munch on your slimy pests that will not get the chance to taste your cabbages and hostas.
The paint will seal cracks in wooden fences and trellises and preserve them for longer. Re-painted furniture will feel like new and so will the pots and raised beds. You will learn the beauty of up-cycling and you’ll have more time for your garden.
But this doesn’t mean more work in it. Pretty much the opposite. By letting the flower colour creep into your neglected bowling green means you’ve cut down on mowing and feeding. By mixing veg with flowers you let them take care of each other. The wilder you let the colours mingle, the less maintenance there surprisingly is.
Colour in all seasons
And when the summer’s planting season is over, the colours will remain in the fences and furniture. The dying, bronzy foliage will contrast with the vibrant walls and pots and we will be excited for the next spring to come!