So was it a hard winter or not? Yes we had a good deal of snow but not much in the way of hard frosts. The springboard for an early start to spring is soil temperature and our Tatsfield soil seems to be less cold than in previous winters. How do we know this? Just look at the growth of the soft plants like wallflowers, polyanthus and our bulbs. In the last week of February I saw some wallflowers starting to flower just over a week after that fall of wet snow. So my vote is that it was very wet but not that cold and that augers well for an early spring. All we need now is a steady improvement in temperatures and a more ‘normal’ rainfall, whatever that is! This of course is not necessarily any indication of whether we will have a dry summer, but a number of those who reckon they see a trend are talking of 1976, when we had that very dry summer. I am not so sure, but then it did start that way last year didn’t it?
My plant for this month is an early flowering cherry Prunus ‘Kursar’. Usually bought and planted as a standard tree, this is a compact cherry that flowers in early spring before the leaves with bunches of beautiful pink flowers. It is suitable for a medium sized garden as it grows steadily making about eight feet all round over 10 years or so. It likes a sunny spot and is tolerant of heavy soils. All cherries are vulnerable to canker so make sure to buy a tree that is free of any damage that would allow this disease to penetrate. It looks great in a lawn standing in the centre of a circular bed underplanted with bulbs and summer bedding. This arrangement also provides a ‘buffer zone’ from the careless use of the mower and strimmer that will damage the soft bark!
This is the last month for pruning shrubs that flower on the growth made this year e.g. Buddleia, Caryopteris, and most modern bush roses. These need to be pruned hard to stimulate as much new growth as possible. Please remember it is now too late to cut back very big bushes and hedges as it is bird nesting time. If you have to cut back a large plant then please make sure to very carefully check inside to see if there is a bird nesting there.