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A year in the life of a garden

Tom Nicholas of Me My Spade and I brings us the first in a series of columns designed to assist you with your gardening endeavours

"Spring is well and truly here"

It brings me enormous pleasure to write this monthly column which includes lots of practical gardening tips, what to do now and how to do it, as well as introductions to a vast array of plants you may not be familiar with.

I am extremely excited to be walking you through this year’s long adventure, talking you through the seasons, bringing you informative articles on all sizes of garden, gardening techniques, showcasing our landscape projects to inspire you and most importantly reminding you of the jobs that you need to be doing each month.

Whether you love your garden and long for the summer, so you can see it come to life again, or find it a real burden, there is definitely a garden for everyone.

Above all, I hope you will learn something new along the way.

Tom’s Tales from the Garden

After the dark damp months of winter, small glimpses of hope are starting to sprout from the ground. Snowdrops are a true sign that spring is on its way, aconites add some bright colour after the winter and of course we all look forward to seeing the daffodils in full bloom. These spring flowers are all little victories in the morale sucking depths of the winter. I always see the New Year in with excitement and hope. The winter months are without doubt the hardest time to get motivated about working in your garden, late sunrise’s, early sunsets, wet and bitterly cold days don’t help. As a gardener morale does drop but then I see the second flush of life shining like diamonds in the rough, the Hellebores (another firm spring favourite) and my mood changes.

Following the Snowdrops, Aconites and Hellebores, come the further signs that spring has sprung. One of my favourite jobs to do in the garden is pruning roses, I find it so therapeutic. Seeing new shoots on my roses or seeing the hedgerows burst their buds, I know that spring is well and truly here and the results of my hard work from this winter won’t be far away.

Tom’s Top Tip – Getting the best from your Hellebores

Around January you will start to see new shoots growing from the base of the plant. By the end of January they will be very prominent and these shoots will be the new flowers, if you cut all of the leaves down to the ground leaving the newly forming flowers it takes the energy it was sending to the leaves and redirects it to the new shoots, leaving you a great flush of flowers to enjoy.

What to do in April…

Prune your fig Trees

If you have them pruning your fig trees is at the top of my list. Cut out any crossing branches from last year along with a general tidy, and remove any remaining figs from last year.

Feed the shrubs

Feed the shrubs that need your assistance. This can consist of a good helping of compost through to a specific Rhododendron feed. Take a look around the garden, write down any shrubs you may have and do a little research into the nutrients they need. Alternatively you can always drop me a line and I will happily advise you in the best way to feed your shrubs.

Start weeding

By now the weeds will be well on their way, small, short bursts of weeding will help you keep on top of the most tedious job in the garden (don’t worry you are not alone on this, its not my favourite job either.) This will help top that dreaded feeling you get when can barely see flowers for weeds! That thick layer of compost should also be assisting you with this task.

Lawn treatments

I always recommend a couple of mows in March if the weather allows. Reducing the height of the grass and allowing easier access to the moss or weeds you have in the lawn. I personally put out a weed treatment first, give it 7 – 10 days to take affect, and then scarify, or rake, the lawn to clear debris and aerate the lawn with a hollow time (hollow-tine Aeration is the process of taking small plugs from the lawn).If you do not own one they are quite cheap to hire. After this level of care, your grass will look a lot better. I tend to give the lawn a week or two to recover before applying a fertiliser, once all this is done I would expect you to be able to play bowls in the spring sunshine!


Me My Spade and I, based in Oxfordshire and provide specialist horticultural garden services throughout the Home Counties and London. From residential houses to commercial sites which includes full garden design, plant selection, landscaping and installation.


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