In the garden it's a hectic time, but remember to enjoy it too

In her weekly column Olive Ryan shares some tips about what to do in the garden at this time of year
In the garden it's a hectic time, but remember to enjoy it too

COLOUR OF SUMMER; Not long now until sweet peas abound.

GROWTH is abounding everywhere as the soil has warmed up sufficiently and overnight temperatures are no longer dipping so low.

Every year, we wait and wait and wish the winter away and long to be catapulted into spring and summer when growth is plentiful, and then when it does happen it comes as a surprise and is almost overwhelming.

For me, this happens every year, and May is such as busy month in the garden, keeping weeds at bay, planning sowings, watering, keeping seedlings moving and constantly keeping an eye on temperatures before planting out into the soil.

If the ground work is laid down well now and organisation prevails, then a more enjoyable, productive summer will follow. Every year is different and different growing conditions prevail with each that passes.

Different things are happening in our lives which either enable or prevent us getting what we need to get done on time. Whatever the case, new things are learned each year that help us to get the most from our gardens. 

I intend to enjoy less mowing again this year with areas of long grass which have become home to little pygmy shrews. 

These are the smallest mammal in Ireland, distinguished by their high-pitched squeeking, small size and pointy noses. They survive on a diet of insects, mainly beetles, flies, spiders and woodlice, living in areas of long grass or at the bottom of hedges.

It is interesting to observe how nature finds it’s place once more when we relinquish control a little.

As growth pushes on, it is timely to get a few stakes in place before things become too blousey. If secured in place early, any type of stake, bamboo canes, hazel rods, metal hoops will all become obscured by plant growth which is the ultimate goal, to convince the observer that no support is being provided or necessary!

It is also easier to secure supports in place just before growth becomes too luscious and so now is a good time for action.

Peonies can become top heavy when flowering and will be grateful of some sort of support to keep their blossoms upright. Some taller herbaceous plants like Veronicastrums, Actea and Asters will all benefit now from some subtly provided scaffolding for later in the year when they will need it. Sweet pea need tieing in initially once planted out until they take off themselves, wrapping their tendrils around wire or netting as provided. They will also benefit from a regular feed about every 10-14 days, with tomato food to ensure a plentiful supply of deliciously scented blooms throughout the summer months.

Apples have just finished flowering and rival ornamental cherries for their pretty pink and white flowers that are a magnet for pollinators in the garden. Fingers crossed that the night-time frosts will stay away as they flower and become fertilised and set fruit, as the late frosts in May last year put paid to a lot of the fruit.

Feeding apple trees with some bone meal fertiliser now will provide their roots with slow release nutrients over the next few months. 

Bone meal is high is the nutrient phosphorus, essential for healthy flower and subsequent fruit formation so this is an important nutrient to have available to fruiting trees and shrubs in the garden right now.

Great news for plant enthusiasts last week when the first Irish Specialist Plant Nurseries plant fair of 2021 was announced for Sunday, July 11 at Russborough House in Wicklow, definitely a date for the diary!

Whatever stage you are at in your garden right now, it is important to remember to enjoy it, and while the list of jobs is long at this time of the year, remember to look around and take stock. Inevitably, we will not get it all done as us gardeners tend to be over-achievers, striving to tick all the jobs off of the list, build a new raised bed this year, sow a wildflower area, start growing fruit, plant more trees, plant a hedge, stop using pesticides and herbicides... The list is endless, particularly at this time of year.

Take a good look around the garden, listen to the pollinators, admire the beautiful flowers, and observe the life existing in the area of long grass left unmown, create the garden you enjoy being in and accept that every year lessons are learned and our gardens evolve.

The weeds may be there as well, and we will get to as many of them as we need to in time!

Happy Spring Gardening.

Olive writes a column in The Echo every Saturday.

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