Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Kleine episode 2: March and April is a time of huge change in the garden, as the remnants of winter make way for the hope of spring. Carol is busy clearing away the last of the winter detritus to make way for waves of planting. There’s pruning to be done, and she sows the first seeds of the year. Snowdrops are replaced by celandines and violets, and along the lanes and hedgerows, primroses abound.
A local hedge pruner, who has come to cloud prune Carol’s box hedge, finds his work interrupted as the lengthening days of April bring a nesting hedge sparrow to the garden. Plantswoman Carol Klein shares a year in her garden at Glebe Cottage in north Devon.
Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Kleine episode 2 – Spring
Established hedges require trimming to keep them dense and compact. Formal hedges require more frequent trimming than informal hedges. New hedges require formative pruning for their first couple of years after planting. Formative pruning is usually carried out in winter or early spring.
After this, maintenance trimming is carried out, usually once a year for informal hedges and twice a year for formal hedges. Some formal hedges may need three cuts a year. Maintenance trimming is generally carried out between spring and summer. Timing of pruning should take into account the potential for nesting birds (see ‘Problems’ section below) and be delayed until after the nesting season – considered to run from March to August – if there are any signs that indicate activity.
Hand-held hedge shears are fine for smaller hedges, but for large hedges you’ll probably find it easier to use an electric or petrol hedge trimmer. No matter what you use always make sure the equipment is sharp and well lubricated.
Always think of your safety when using a powered hedge trimmer. Wear safety goggles and sturdy gloves. Before starting, remove any obstacles on the ground. Avoid using powered tools above shoulder height and use sturdy step ladders or platforms, ensuring they are stable.
Primroses are easy to grow and come in a variety of forms, but there’s a whole world of related plants in the Primula genus that are just as beautiful. These include our native yellow cowslips to stylish drumstick primulas and ornate auriculas.
They come in shades of yellow, pink, orange and more, most of them flowering in early spring but others blooming much later. Primroses and primulas are versatile, suitable for growing in borders or containers, and work in both formal and informal planting schemes. Grow them individually or mixed with other spring-flowering favourites, in containers, borders, around the edge of your pond or naturalised in your lawn.