We have all heard of March winds and April showers – well I don’t know about you but I’ve heard and felt enough winds over the past few months to do me a lifetime so the prospect of March winds have no appeal for me. Roll on good sunny days!
Some time ago I mentioned that the garden is just another room outside; however most people cannot resist the charms of a secret garden so it might be worth considering creating a few rooms outdoors. It is fun to stumble into a private enclosed space as you make your way around the garden. It helps if your garden is already divided by mature hedges, high walls or fences but an immediate effect can be achieved by erecting trellises, fencing panels etc.
The most appealing layouts are those where only parts of the garden are visible from the main viewing point such as from the kitchen window, patio area etc. Areas hidden or partially concealed behind a veil of planting invite us to explore and wander.
For smaller sites it is important to choose screening methods and materials carefully. Fine trellis screens might be more useful than strong growing hedges as hedging take up a lot of valuable space, dry up the soil with their roots and of course need maintenance during the year. Decorative screens are useful not only as dividers but also as supports for climbing plants.
Screens that are skilfully placed draw the eye away from unsightly features such as dustbins, washing lines, compost heaps and so on. Alternatively screens can highlight focal points by placing a statue or similar in front of the trellising. An archway in the trellising can provide a snapshot view to the next area of garden.
As an alternative to trellis there are a whole range of fencing materials available but remember that they should be fixed securely to posts if yours is a windy site.
Climbers suitable for softening your trellising would be honeysuckles such as Lonicera halliana, Lonicera Halls Prolific, roses such as Rosa Compassion, Rosa New Dawn, Rosa American Pillar and Clematis montana Tetrarose etc. If you want to impress your neighbours with a long sounding name then you must plant a Fremontadendron californicum. Climbers require a soil depth of 12’’ -14’’ approx.
Living/planted screens protect against both strong winds and strong sunlight. They also provide privacy from the neighbours. Ask for advice before planting though as planting the correct species for your site is vital. A word of advice, avoid leylandii if you have a small garden. They will require non-stop cutting (fine if you have nothing better to do) and tend to get a little ‘browned off’ on the windward side.
Put your thinking cap on and see if you can design some rooms within your own garden.
• Divide clumps of perennials.
• In order to prevent apple scab spray using a systemic fungicide just as the buds are bursting.
• Sprout potatoes for sowing over the coming weeks.
• Prune buddleias, fuchsias and late -flowering spiraeas.
• Begin re-potting indoor plants.
• Dig over your vegetable garden in preparation for planting and sowing in March.
• Prune your roses immediately if you have not already done so.