Spring beckons – inside and out

Invited by our esteemed Chairperson to write the MUWAGA gardening column for this edition of The Wychwood, I approach the task with a huge dose of humility. A tough act to follow, Tony! But a pleasure nevertheless, as we look forward to the joys of spring.

February tempts us with longer hours of daylight and some late winter sunshine – but frosts and snow can blight and curtail outdoor activity. Gardening activity really does get us moving in March. If the birds are singing and busy, then we should copy, rain and wind notwithstanding. And of course, for both months, there is always the greenhouse, or the conservatory, or the windowsill. And indeed, the varying demands of the lawn.

People not keen on lawns see them as deserts of monocultural green – though of course the immaculate lawn is a rarity. Personally, I quite like the look and feel of moss in a lawn, which with daisy-leaf and clover keep the lawn green, fresh and elastic underfoot in summer. A few years ago, one autumn, we planted crocus and snowdrop bulbs in an area of the lawn, and now enjoy a spring showing of vibrant colour. This year we will add fritillaries and aconites. On the other hand, a conventionally acceptable lawn does have its enthusiasts. So, spring is the time to continue the autumn attentions of scarifying and removing layers of moss and thatch. It is also important to spike the lawn uniformly and to brush in top-dressing to the holes for good drainage, against those inevitable spring rains and April showers.

Then there are the indoor activities. In our house, several windowsills are commandeered for tomato and pepper seeds from late February and into March – taking care not to be too early and thus risking legginess in the tomatoes. Earlier though is good for the slower-to-germinate peppers. Cucumber seeds and courgettes can join them from late March and early April, preparing for the early summer potting routines.

Meantime plans for MUWAGA continue to include a watching brief on the rules around social gatherings. Both February and March speakers are booked to attend in the village hall. In February we have the head gardener from the Cotswold Wildlife Park and March sees a visit by Chris Day from Buckingham Nursery.  The sense is becoming palpable that the alternative Zoom arrangements have lost a little of their attraction but we must do our best, and certainly we have no shortage of interesting speakers and topics, whichever format we use.

As the man nearly said: “Fare Forward, Gardeners”!

David Betterton

February – March 2022