If you didn’t get round to planting any spring bedding in the autumn you still have time as these days nearly all garden centres carry a good selection of bedding and bulbs that have been grown on. In some ways it’s a better way of doing spring bedding as the plants have been grown on in a protected environment so their quality is better i.e. they haven’t been bashed about by the winter.
The actual bedding plants like primroses, polyanthus, forget-me-not, wallflower, and double daisies are price wise not much more than in the autumn although bulb for bulb it does work out more expensive. But if you want to establish snow drops this is a great time to plant as they are what’s called “in the green” which just means they’re in leaf – the best way to succeed with them rather than planting dry bulbs in the autumn. Do remember that the perennials like primrose, polyanthus, and daffs will keep going for many years, maybe not as full on but great fillers in borders or along hedge lines.
I’ve just started to sow some of my veg and summer bedding plants to get them under way, it’s a good idea to stagger sowing so that you don’t have loads of seedlings all ready for pricking out at the same time. And investing in a propagator makes seed germination much more reliable and successful especially if you go for the ones that have a heating element in the base, they stop the compost from drying out so quickly (germinating seedlings really won’t tolerate that!) and also provide a more ideal and even temperature.
With the spring in sight now it’s worth doing a little spring cleaning by tackling decking and paving that can get quite slippery with algae, weeds and dirt during the winter months. Breezy bright days are a good choice for this job as one it keeps you warm and two the surfaces dry out well. First off give them a good brush over with a stiff broom and remove all the dirt and rubbish. It’s then a case of giving them a good scrub, I go with water and jeyes fluid although there are many other detergents available that clean as well as kill off algae. If you use a power jet make sure the surface is good and sound as it’s very easy to damage joints mortar joints or on pavers remove the “jointing sand”, personally I stick with the stiff broom method much less likely to cause problems. It’s still a little early to start patching bare lawn areas.
Other plants that give a great display in spring are alpines and rockery plants, they don’t have to be in a traditional rockery they work well at the front of borders, around the edge of paving, and in pots and troughs. Use a loam based compost when planting in containers and it’s worth adding some extra grit. For a good display of colour and texture try America, Sempervivum, Iberis, Campanula, Pinks, Helianthemum, Dwarf Phlox and good old Aubretia.