Thursday 23 November 2017

Get back into action

Dermot O’Neill

Spring is the time to roll up your sleeves and start to create a dream garden, says Dermot O’Neill

You can take full advantage of the longer evenings by getting out into your gardens to do the many needed tasks. It’s not just the vegetable garden that needs attention now. There are also many other areas, from the lawn to rose beds, that will need some TLC.

This is a great time to plan ahead, too. Seeds can be sown with bedding plants, providing that you can give them the protection of a greenhouse or plastic tunnel. There are still late frosts about and these can cause havoc with small, tender plants.

It is a good idea to make notes of the important jobs that need to be done, as this will help you to work your way efficiently through the tasks and it will make your gardening life easier.

The grass is always greener...

Lawns need attention now, because they can be looking tired and often yellow after the wet winter. A lawn feed will go a long way to bringing them back into peak condition. If you’re going to use a granual lawn feed, it’s worth using a spreader. For large areas these can be hired, while for smaller lawns, garden centres usually offer a scaled-down, user-friendly type. Either way, this machine will help to spread the lawn feed evenly and also helps you to be costeffective. Take your time doing this job as you don’t want to over-feed any one area. Now is also the perfect time to get your lawnmower serviced: petrol lawnmowers will benefit from having their oil changed, and it’s always worth having an expert eye take a look.


Pruning work can still be carried out on apple trees, but if you don’t feel up to the job it may be worth seeking professional help. Another spring task is the sowing of new lawns, providing the ground has been prepared well, dug in advance and has good drainage — if you do this, you can make real headway when it comes to developing a new lawn.

We’re also coming into an ideal time for the planting of trees and shrubs, and soil preparation is very important for this too.

I recently visited Arboretum Garden Centre near Loughlinbridge, Co Carlow, and they had an amazing array of colourful camellias. This is a great way of cheering up the garden at this time of year. Camellias must have lime-free soil and are happy to grow in a big pot, provided you use a goodquality lime-free compost.

One of my favourite varieties is called Donation (above). This has a lovely medium-pink colour and provides a great display. Avoid positioning them where they receive morning sun, as this candamage the flowers.

Another very beautiful version is Jury’s Yellow (left), which has a white/cream flower with a pale cream, yellow-tinted centre. There are dozens of varieties available.

Ready to- go plants

It’s well worth visiting your garden centre at this time of year as it gives you the chance to choose plants in flower and showing seasonal colour.

Also, if you missed out on planting daffodils, for example, you can pick up a pot which is ready to plant now — the same goes for tulips and small bulbs such as crocuses.

This is also a superb time to consider planting roses. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the range available. There’s a good range of organic feeds out there, so don’t neglect your soil.

Put in a little work now — even if it is just digging.


If you have a greenhouse, it’s worth washing the glass as this will allow more light in and really benefit plant growth. If you have very small, tender plants growing, you may need to put up some shading or use horticultural fleece.

At this time of year, you really should be spring-cleaning your greenhouse, getting it ready for the season ahead.

If you are considering putting up a greenhouse but funds are tight, investigate polytunnels. One of the best companies in the country is Colm Warren Polytunnels, based in Co Meath.

They offer a good range of sizes, so there should be one to suit your pocket. If you are installing a polytunnel or greenhouse, don’t forget you will need access to water

Building up your garden

While spring-cleaning your garden, pay careful attention to climbing plants. Remember that supports and trelliseses may need care after the winter months. It’s also a good time to plant new climbers and an ideal opportunity to put up new trellis or paint and refresh existing ones.

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