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Golden moments

What better way to celebrate spring than with an abundance of yellow flowers, writes Marie Staunton

I tend to associate spring with the colour yellow. Daffodils, mimosa, primroses and the very beautifully scented witch hazels are, for me, the very best examples of all that is good about gardening in spring.

Their brightness makes up for the lack of sunshine, and they bring with them a feel-good factor that makes me want to get back into the garden again.

Acacia dealbata, more commonly known as mimosa or wattle, is the sort of tree you have probably passed by all year and not really given much thought to.

But now, as the vibrant yellow flowers appear, you can appreciate its real beauty. I have seen it grow very happily in a courtyard situation and as a part of a mixed-shrub border. Wherever you plant it, give it full sun and most definitely keep it out of frost pockets.

In fact, it won't stand up too well to long periods of frost and snow.

So, if you happen to live in Cork or Kerry, where it tends to be that little bit kinder temperature- wise, I can't recommend it highly enough.

If you would like to take a chance further north, then go for it -- the flowers are magnificent in spring.

If you received a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's Day, it probably had a few sprigs of mimosa in it as it tends to be a favourite with florists.

It's not a particularly long-lived tree in comparison to some -- about 40 years is the average life span -- so keep that in mind if you are planting it for the long haul.

Hamamelis, or witch hazel as it is more commonly known, is grown primarily for its wonderful spicy scent and for the almost comical tufts of spidery looking yellow flowers in early spring.

As with camellia and azalea, they love a bit of acid soil, but they will also do just fine in a neutral soil.

Hamamelis is happy enough in partial shade and will add both perfume and a fantastic splash of bright yellow to a spring garden.

Hot on the heels of the hamamelis in the flowering department is forsythia.

Now, this is a plant that I personally love but, unless it is kept in check by proper pruning every year, it will look really awful.

I have seen this gorgeous plant pruned into bun-type shapes or generally abused by bad pruning techniques and that's why it sometimes gets bad press.

All this plant needs is a general tidy-up every year -- remove the oldest stems to allow the plant more light and this will in turn allow the new stems to flower beautifully.

In terms of pruning, it is usually wise not to prune when a shrub is coming into leaf. Plants use a huge amount of energy pushing out new leaves and if you prune at that time, you are putting extra pressure on the plant to heal the pruning cut.

Just make sure you prune forsythia immediately after flowering.

I have just looked out the window to see my hens demolish the ornamental cabbages that were growing in pots outside the front door.

We now have ornamental purple stalks to greet the family as they arrive. And if they dead-head one more clump of cyclamen, I may have to find alternative accommodation for them, or risk divorce.

Just a quick mention of an upcoming event in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Co Dublin, for anyone who has an interest in bonsai.

There will be workshops on how to care for your bonsai as well as re- potting demonstrations on March 10, 24 and 31 at 11am.

The exhibition itself starts today and runs until April 19. It's called 'In celebration of Trees' -- An exhibition of Bonsai.

Weekend Magazine