Still time to get those borders in order for spring

Doronicum is flowering.
Doronicum is flowering.
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Shoots of herbaceous plants are breaking surface in the mixed border but it’s worth reminding ourselves that there’s still time to lift plants that have formed large clumps, divide them up and replant in groups.

This past week I’ve been using both spade and trowel to separate lemon balm, chives, spearmint and lungwort into sections that will plant elsewhere in the garden. Each had plenty of soil attached to the roots and they were all well watered in so should establish quickly.

Primrose 'Blueberry Lemon Fizz'

Primrose 'Blueberry Lemon Fizz'

The Lenten roses (hellebores) are in full bloom and nodding in the breeze. Several lungwort (pulmonaria) are putting on their early displays, and the ever-reliable doronicum is covered in yellow flowers. Meanwhile, the buds of early flowering shrubs are plumping up for their spring show, most notably the pink ribes and yellow forsythia.

When hellebores have grown in a particular spot for a few years you will find seedlings littering the surrounding soil. This is a good time to gently lift them, transfer to pots and let them develop outdoors. Who knows, you might just end up with a new colour variation! We grow a few varieties of lungwort in this garden but my long-time favourite is Pulmonaria saccharata. It’s low-growing, ideal for ground cover, with green leaves spotted white, also blue and pink flowers on the same plant. With all of this exciting growth comes an increasing demand for water and food, be it an ornamental plant, fruit or vegetable. So the gardener’s role is to maintain a growing medium capable of absorbing nutrients and moisture, releasing these when the plant requires. Top priority for me is to approach springtime with soil fertility topped-up. All weeds have to go first, then a sprinkling of fish, blood and bone in powdered form is applied to the surface. Next step is to lightly point it into the soil with a fork. Then it is covered with a good layer of mulch.

Top and soft fruit trees and bushes certainly benefit from this treatment, and it is a life-giver to mixed border plants.