Spring

March, April, May

Seeing the garden come to life after a long dark winter is always a joy.  This is the season when bulbs can make a real difference for little cost.  Snowdrops, daffodils, tulips, alliums brighten up any space. Hues of yellow, blues. bright fresh greens and pinks abound.

What are we up to?  Sowing seeds, planting and weeding.  Spring means sowing the seeds of edible crops in the vegetable beds and tender crops in the greenhouse for later planting.  Planting up new borders and weeding.  Getting on top of the weeds as they emerge can save hours of work later in the year.

In the orchard  Fan trained peaches, plums, gages, cherries and apricots are pruned as the buds burst to maintain their formal shape.  Removing leaves before they develop allows air and light to reach the fruit as it swells.

Apple hedge in spring
Apple hedge, tulips and forget-me-not in spring

Summer

June, July and August

As the days get longer the garden fills with scented blooms.  Outdoor spaces literally buzz with life.  At this time of year there is time to sit back a little appreciating all the hard work of the previous months.

What are we up to?  Tender plants are put in their final positions.  In the vegetable garden sweetcorn, squashes and beans are planted out.  Tomatoes, cucumber, aubergine, melon, chilli etc in the greenhouse and tender cut flowers such as dahlia, nicotiana and cosmos are planted out.

In the orchard  Stone fruits; cherries, plums, damsons and gages are pruned whilst in leaf to minimise the spread of disease.  New growth on espalier and cordon apple and pear is shortened.  Larger, untrained fruit trees are summer pruned and thinned to improve fruit quality.

Attaching roses to a pergola

Autumn

September, October, November

Harvest time.  Holidays are over, growth slows as the days shorten.  Whilst spring is all about yellows blues and shades of pastel, dark vibrant reds oranges and purples catch the eye at this time of year.

What are we up to?  Autumn is a busy time in the garden.  Hedges, hedges and more hedges to trim followed by tidying up fading summer blooms and collecting fallen leaves for leaf mould.  Frost tender annual vegetables are harvested and the excess stored.  Spring and summer flowering bulbs are planted into lawns and borders.

In the orchard crops are harvested and winter pruning begins once the leaves have fallen.

Pumpkins harvested for halloween

Winter

December, January, February

Time to bring out the thermals.  The garden may be having a rest but winter is just as busy as the rest of the year for us (although its good to rest and look forward to warmer days when the weather turns to rain or snow).

What are we up to?  Tree planting and orchard work keeps us busy, and as the frosts seem to come later in the year we increasingly find ourselves waiting until after Christmas to tidy up the borders.  To promote flowering, wisteria needs a prune in January/February, when the weather is fine enough to be up a tall ladder.  Old leaves are removed from hellebore, epimedium and ferns to show off flowers and emerging new growth

In the orchard Winter is the main season for pruning established apples and pears.  Removing weak, crowded unhelpful growth is best done after the leaves have fallen when the framework of the tree can easily be identified.

Orchard pruning
Pruning old orchard trees