Richard Harmes, head gardener at Myddelton House Gardens, shares his seasonal advice
Combine singing birds with spring blossom and signs of new life in both flora and fauna, and we have the recipe for a renewed sense of wellbeing and purpose – something needed so much right now.
Gardening and working with plants is said to boost productivity and creativity, and reduce fatigue and stress, so it’s the perfect activity to help boost your wellbeing during the current lockdown. It is also something the whole family can do together and is educational for the children.
For me, the joy of gardening derives from being outside and being with nature. The work isn’t easy and more often than not is physically demanding. However, when you’re digging over a bed, the sense of hard work is often overridden by the surroundings you find yourself in. You never feel as if you’re alone in a garden – there will always be a robin or blackbird happy to give you company in return for the opportunity to feast on those worms you are kindly popping to the surface for them as you turn the soil!
Spring really sets the tone for the growing year ahead and, weather permitting, there’s an endless list of tasks to be tackled. Roses of all kinds can all be pruned now, as can buddleias, lavender and winter flowering shrubs. The list for spring pruning is very extensive and it’s always worth looking them up if you’re not sure. This is also a good time, as the soil warms, to lift and divide those herbaceous plants that have become overcrowded. Asters in particular should be divided regularly to get the best out of them.
During late spring, things really start to speed up here at Myddelton House Gardens, and in gardens across the country, too. It’s a good idea to stake taller plants before they get too tall and topple. Mowing will likely be a weekly task. Early May is a good time to scarify those lawns to get rid of moss and control thatch. A good lawn feed now will reward you throughout the summer, and give lawns a better chance of recovering from possible drought.
Nurseries and garden centres are currently closed to the public, but many – including some in Enfield – are offering home delivery services.
Gardening is such a rewarding vocation, as the results are so visible. There is no better feeling than watching something you have grown with your own hands flourish and thrive in the area of the garden you carefully selected for it. It is no wonder horticulture is now a recognised form of therapy. In fact, research shows the health benefits of gardening are quite incredible!
Garden centres currently offering deliveries include Springtime Nurseries and Wolden Garden Centre in Crews Hill. Find your nearest via the Horticultural Trades Association: