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It's spring cut-back time!

  • It's spring cut-back time!
  • It's spring cut-back time!
  • It's spring cut-back time!
  • It's spring cut-back time!

At long last, it really does appear to be spring, so now is the time to get out in the garden (is it just me, or am I always saying that??!) and remove any leftovers of last year's foliage or flowers, before this year's new growth appears.

There is always a reluctance to take away the old stuff: "it's frost protection", I hear, or "it's a wildlife haven", but personally I think it's better to clear it all away, give the birds a chance to find all those overwintering slugs and snails, and give us a chance to enjoy the first stirrings of our plants for this season.

Candidates for this spring cleaning include Sedum - come on, we're all sick and tired of those dead brown heads, aren't we? And if you chop them off now, it's easy to do so without damaging those tender new shoots. Trust me, all the seeds have been taken by the wildlife!!

Another good one is Pulsatilla, or Pasque Flower: these furry little beauties are shooting up now, and removing the dead brown foliage brings them out in the open, where we can see them.

My third suggestion for this week is a personal favourite, Epimedium: it's really under-rated, I think, mostly because people don't realise that, in order to see the flowers, you need to remove the old leaves, right now. The leaves have a certain beauty of their own, that's the problem - at this time of year, many Epimediums turn a lovely bronzey colour, so it's tempting to just leave them as they are. But if you do, you can't see the new flowers, dainty and fresh on invisibly slender stalks.

The last picture shows the clump with the leaves carefully removed - and although you can barely see the flowers, I assure you that a week later the Client dragged me out to this part of the garden by the arm, fizzing with excitement, to ask what the incredible “new” flowers were - she'd never seen them before!

So, don't waste time spring cleaning indoors - get outside, and spring clean the garden instead!


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