Gardens in Spring by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The Isle of Wight has long been recognised as benefitting  from both a mild coastal climate and fertile soils favourable to the gardener

“In general such is the purity of the air, the fertility of the soil, and the beauty and variety of the landscapes, that this island has often been styled the Garden of England” – The History of the Isle of Wight, Sir Richard Worsley. 1781

This is one of a series of articles and anecdotes largely based around our work on the Isle of Wight and occasionally further afield

Tim Brayford Landscapes- Flowering Currants bloom earlier an the Spring

The Garden in Spring

“And so befel, whan comen was the tyme
Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede
With newe grene, of lusty Ver the pryme,
And swote smellen floures whyte and rede,
In sondry wyses shewed, as I rede,
The folk of Troye his observances olde,
Palladiones feste for to holde.
Geoffrey Chaucer

The lighter and warmer days of Spring is when the garden really seems to burst into life. As early flowering bulbs such as Snowdrops begin to fade they will soon be superseded by Daffodils, Narcissus, Bluebells and Tulips, to name but a few.

As the ground begins to warm and dry it is the ideal time to plant container grown trees, shrubs and herbaceous, the task will be made all the easier if much of the preparatory work has already been done in the preceding Autumn and Winter.

At this time some may be tempted to plant bare rooted specimens but late plantings of these often result in a failure to thrive and it may be better to wait for the dormant season to return again towards the end of the year.

Tim Brayford Landscapes-Bluebells in springtime

Around Easter time many people will venture out to a garden centre and stock up with whatever happens to be in bloom, shrubs such as Flowering Currant, Forsythia and Pieris seem to be particular favourites along with herbaceous like Aquilegia, Dicentra and Epimedium.

The results of this may be seen for years to come when their gardens produce a brilliant floral display for a few weeks in the Spring and regrettably little else during the rest of the year. If prior consideration is given to drawing up a more balanced planting plan that spreads the flowering season then this hazard may be avoided altogether.

Now is the time to turn your attention to the lawn. Take a light cut as soon as conditions are favourable, a dry day is best, with your mower on its highest setting. Rake up fallen leaves and spilled clippings removing moss with a spring-tined rake as necessary. Brush away worm casts and lightly roll. As the weather continues to warm up apply a combined weed and feed treatment. If any areas appear to be a bit thin scatter some good quality lawn seed and consider new turf for larger patches of bare lawn.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – Late flowering Apple blossom

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

 

Pruning Apples and Pears by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The Quick Guide to Winter Pruning

If in doubt…Don’t! Well, you have to agree, that was quick. But I think we can do better than that. Apples and pears will quite often fruit reasonably well if you just leave them alone but they will get to a stage where overcrowding of branches and disease will cut down the on the reason we grow them; the fruit.

Why do we prune? We need to prune to encourage fruiting ‘spurs’, clear out any dead or diseased wood and generally shape the tree to an attractive form. We’ve all seen children’s drawings of trees, generally a cup on a leg, and for ordinary bush forms, which is what we shall deal with here, that’s not far off the ideal.

Stand back and take a good look at your tree. Is it the shape you want? Does it interfere with paths, buildings etc? Don’t be afraid to tackle it, you’re the boss!

Taking out branches which cross over the middle of the cup is a good idea as it keeps the air moving through the tree when it’s in full leaf and helps to prevent fungus diseases. If your tree has several branches in this position remove only one or two each winter as a severe removal of a large mass of branches will result in the tree producing a lot of compensating growth the next year and very little fruit. The same goes for branches which need to come out to improve the shape. Remove any branches which are diseased or have died back to where you are sure the growth looks clean.

RULE 1. Stagger removal of large branches over several winters.

RULE 2. Cut cleanly, using a pruning saw or good loppers, leaving a very small ‘stub’, which should heal over by itself.

Now come in close and look at one major branch at a time to assess it’s fruiting ability. Most varieties produce fruiting spurs which are clusters of small, knobbly twigs with fat flower buds on.(Growth buds tend to be thinner and pointed) What you are aiming for is a framework of  branches with a good coverage of spurs.

Example: Apple tree pruning – avoid taking too much off!

What you may have are branches covered with lots of whippy growth about 6 to 12 inches long (showing my age there I’m afraid!), these will need to be shortened to two buds long, in other words  where two leaves were in the summer. If  it is very crowded you may need to remove some altogether, spacing them out along the branches about 5 to 6 inches apart is good. These will then start to produce flower buds over the next summer.

RULE 3. Shorten small whippy growth to encourage fruiting spurs.

This is a much simplified guide to winter pruning but it gives you the basics to tackle your fruit trees, if you decide to pursue this topic further there are many good books available or call in an expert, we’ve been keeping trees performing well for years!

Word of Caution – If someone comes to prune your fruit trees with a chainsaw, show them the gate… If that’s what they need then they’re taking off too much!

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918