Owning a garden – whatever its size – involves dealing with the tasks that make a difference in the short term, as well as those that will make an impact some way into the future.
Our favorite gardening expert, Monty Don, has reminded us of two spring garden jobs that need doing now that are just like that. One of them will allow you to plant now for great-looking borders this summer. The other is all about thinking ahead to spring next year (and you know we’ll be there in what feels like a flash). But both of them involve your spring flowers.
If you want to take Monty’s advice and get set for a beautiful summer garden as well as a bloom-filled spring plot, just read on. And if you’re focusing on the big picture you can find out how to plan your garden design in our special feature.
Monty Don’s top tips on the care you need to give spring flowers now
Monty revealed the care you need to give spring flowers now on his website (opens in new tab). We’re sharing his brilliant advice below, along with some tips of our own.
1. Alliums flower from late spring to early summer, so including these in your garden is an excellent way to enjoy blooms after other spring bulbs have had their moment. They're also one of the best plants for beginners. But, unlike most other bulbs, their foliage can be cut back right after they’ve flowered, Monty explains.
Why would you want to do this? Cutting back allium leaves can create the space you need for planting tender annuals in a border – another job to have on your to-do list for the garden this month.
You’ll enjoy brilliant summer color and attractive blooms if you put in the cosmos, zinnias, tithonia or sunflowers Monty suggests. Bottom line? A little attention to these spring-flowering bulbs now, followed by some time spent planting means beautiful garden borders this summer.
2. Wondering if you should deadhead alliums? Well, you could cut off the flowerheads once they’re spent but dried they look very striking, so our advice is to leave them to add interest to your plot. Of course, if you're a fan of the best cutting garden flowers, then you might want to cut some and use them in flower arrangements inside your home.
3. Think longer term, too, with a little Monty-recommended tulip tending. Those that are planted in borders should be deadheaded once they’re past their best, Monty says.
The reason for deadheading them is that it stops seed development. Instead, all of the plants’ energies go into forming new bulbs for the flowers you’ll see next spring, says Monty.
4. Monty’s technique for deadheading is simple to achieve. Just use your fingers to snap off the spent flower with the growing seed pod.
5. A word of warning from Monty on tulip care. Leave the stem and foliage alone. These contribute to the growing bulbs as they die back, he says.
6. You might want to make a note to plant tulips behind perennials when you’re putting in these bulbs in the future. New foliage will conceal the tulips’ foliage as it dies back resulting in tidier borders. There's more tips on how to plant tulips in our guide.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.
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