Easter seems to be more and more about chocolate now, but given my surname (Cadbury) that’s probably inevitable in my case!
Alongside the chocolate fest, for we happy band of gardeners it’s all about getting out into the garden, sharpening the secateurs and planning ahead.
My wife and I have been deadheading our sea of daffodils and although many are nearly over, they’re still a magnificent sight. Deadheading, (as no doubt you know), is the removal of the bloom after flowering and before the seed pod develops to ensure valuable energy goes back into the bulb rather than into making seed pods...which means the following year you’ll get a wonderful display and that the plant may produce bulblets to spread the daffodil love!
A word of warning - if you don’t deadhead, your yellow beauties may sulk and only flower every few years.
It’s a similar story with tulips - once they’ve flowered and the foliage has faded, snap off the dead heads before they’ve had a chance to seed. Depending on your soil you may want to lift your bulbs (for heavier soil) and store them for replanting in November, or if you have free-draining soil simply leave them in the ground. Having said that, we’ve frequently been woken in the dead of night by our dog barking ferociously, only to find enormous holes dug around the tulip bulbs in the morning. According to my mother apparently badgers love them, so we may well lift our bulbs after all to replant next winter.
To avoid the tragedy and deter stripey diggers, some friends suggest spreading branches of prickly holly on your tulip bed - I’ve meanwhile resorted to putting down curry powder which seems to have been reasonably successful! My 83 year old mother assures me that peeing around the bed is also a good method, although she does insist it has to be male pee! We were distraught when our tulips had been dug up, but having sorted out the mess we stoically replanted and our display has been a real pleasure this spring.
Badger hole in foreground, saved tulips in the background
We also planted a few bulbs late this year and although they haven’t flowered, we’ve marked their location with stakes – if you’re anything like me, you’ll have forgotten where you put them and start inadvertently digging them up (and damaging them in the process) in a few months’ time. I also mark early-flowering bulbs as they die back, so when we plant new bulbs next autumn we’ll actually fill the gaps rather than play guessing games.
Bamboo sticks marking position of bulbs
My wife’s gardening agenda for this week and the Easter weekend includes feeding spring bulbs while they’re still in leaf to help with next year’s flowers, planting a climber to cover a wall and weeding, weeding and more weeding! Weeds are already on the rampage and waging war now to get on top of them is absolutely key to an easier summer. Mulching around fruit trees and bushes will help keep weeds down and moisture in.
Sweet peas should be fine to leave outside, although if there’s a frost do bring them in at night - it’ll soon be time to plant them out and tie them in to their supports.
Our three sons are coming home for Easter at various times over the weekend, so part of the garden will be turned into a little cricket pitch. I need to get on with the mowing asap - the grass is growing so fast I can almost see it flourishing as I watch!
The weather forecast for Easter in our neck of the woods is fairly good, so I hope it will be good gardening weather wherever you are.