Rain has fallen, sun has shone and we have action in the garden after the cold dark days of winter. Golden primroses brighten patches of grass on my dog walks and now with longer daylight hours ahead I’m beginning to think of my garden.
The March mornings find the ground cold and often frozen but with occasional blue skies and sunshine my energy is surging and I’m eager to get moving. This week I’ve sorted my summer seeds, sweet peas (of course), cosmos, zinnias, nigella – all the cutting garden beauties without forgetting the summer courgettes, peppers and salads. I’ve cleaned up the roses by removing all the dead and damaged branches as well as cutting the oldest stems almost to the ground to encourage new growth. As I leave many perennials standing over winter for some structure, I’ve been up to my ears in clippings, cleaning up the beds, making space for new growth and mulching like mad. The birds also appreciate the neglected tall seed heads to feast on during the colder months until at least the stems collapse under the snow. I continue to fill the feeders with sunflower seeds until about Easter time, and I try to remember to put some water out for them too.
A very important task to keep on top of at this time of year is the dreaded weeding. I know I must sound like a broken record but slow and steady wins this race every time. Whenever you walk around your garden make sure you have a small trowel to hand, dig up every weed you can when you first see it. The smaller they are the easier they are to move. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You may have noticed some grass growth around you which means it’s time to check your lawnmower. Give it a little clean, check your petrol if it runs on that, a little oil change perhaps, lift the height settings so your first mow is high and start it up to make sure all is in good order. If the ground is not too soft a first gentle mow removing just the tips on a high setting is all that is called for at this time of the year. Don’t be tempted to mow over any naturalised bulbs in the lawn, they really need to be left as long as you can bear the brown leaves, at least three weeks after flowering and even more if you can.
Speaking of grass, well ornamental garden grasses, it is the perfect time to give them some care right now. Evergreen varieties such as stipa just need to be combed through by hand to remove the old growth. Deciduous varieties such as miscanthus, calamagrostis and deschampsia should be cut back hard now before too much of their new green growth has emerged. Do wear gloves when you work with ornamental grasses as they can sometime be rather stiff and may cut your hands.
Are you itching to get back in the garden but don’t know where to start? I’ll be running a few workshops, ateliers de jardinage, in the beautiful walled garden of L’Heure du Thé in Chéserex for a morning of learning and planting. We’ll be creating a fresh planter of joy for your terrace. Join me on either Tuesday 18 or Tuesday 25 April from 10:00-12:30. Send me a note at email@example.com to book a spot.
We are so fortunate to have one of the oldest tulip festivals in the world right on our doorstep here in Morges. Saturday 1 April marks the first day of this annual event. It’s always a wonderful morning out, especially when the sun is shining. I recommend an early start as it can become quiet busy especially at the weekend, take stroll through the beautiful Parc de l’Independence and enjoy the tulips. As they don’t all bloom at once there is always something new to see. This year each bed will have a QR code with the name of the variety and an option to order bulbs which will be delivered to your home in September. The annual sale of the finished bulbs will take place on Tuesday 16 May – a date for your diaries.
The wonderful Journées des plantes de Aiguebelette has changed it name and location this year. It will be held on the grounds of the Chateau Reinach in La Motte-Servolex en Savoie which is located about 5 minutes from Chambéry, in the direction of Aix les Bains – Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 April 09:00-18:00, entry is Euro 4 (-16 free). Follow the yellow signs “Journées des Plantes” from the autoroute. This is a really large French event with growers from across the country eager to share their plant knowledge and expertise with amateur gardeners. I hope in its new location it continues to be a great day out.
One of my favourite places to visit locally is the renovated walled garden of the Jardin des cinq sens in Yvoire. I love catching the boat from Nyon, walking up the hill past the ice cream and hat vendors and slipping into the most perfect garden filled with scent and bustling with the hum of the insects as they move from plant to plant. If I’m really lucky I’ll find a plant I “need” on the table on the way out. They reopen on Friday 7 April for the season and continue to offer an adult season pass for less than the cost of two entries Euro 25 – a bargin in my opinion. Just remember no dogs permitted.
Easter often marks the opening of private gardens in the area, the Château de Vuillerens above Morges is one. It reopens on Saturday 8 April until the end of October. Please check the website for exact details as they change according to the season. These gardens are most known for their important collection of irises, while a little early for irises the gardens are filled with spring flowers, flowering shrubs and sculptures. Family Easter egg and treasure hunting activities are organised on Easter Sunday and Monday but need to be booked in advance. See the site for full details.
Les Bucoliques was established by two friends who wanted to share their desire to create a meeting point for amateur gardeners and nature lovers. This weekend des plantes et du jardin will be held in the grounds of the l’Abbaye de Salaz in Ollon above Aigle from 28-30 April. See the website for an extensive list of exhibitors from garden sculptures to honey and bonsai to high altitude nurseries. A little something for everyone.
Legumes en villes is a lovely initiative created by the association “J’aime ma campagne” and “Les Maraîchers Genevois” to cultivate a vegetable garden right in the centre of Geneva. Their activities commence in May and include guided tours and an afterwork apéro at their food truck on Thursdays – its definitely worth a look if you are in the neighbourhood, Promenade de l’Observatoire, opposite the museum.
Following a short absence due to the pandemic the Swiss Gardening School will relaunch a series of courses from September at a new location in Nyon. The new look website will be back up and running later this spring.
I don’t know what I like more the multi-stemmed white cherry blossoms or the magnificent magnolia about to burst into pale pink blossom. Whichever tree you prefer take a moment to enjoy their ephemeral beauty in the hope that the rain and cold does not damage them before they look their best.
Happy gardening until next time.