Shrub and Tree Garden Guide for Mid Spring
Jobs to do
Preparing the soil for planting
Mid-spring is a better time to plant some of the shrubs mentioned in early spring, and there are others which should not be planted until now, so soil will need to be prepared for these in the usual way by forking it, clearing it of winter weeds and mixing in.
Finish any planting left from early spring. You should be able to plant the hardier grey-leaved shrubs towards the end of mid-spring and most of the evergreens at any. However, if you are in the middle of a cold, sunny period, and you have somewhere to heel in open-ground plants, it is better to wait until the weather improves. Warm, showery springs are ideal for planting, but drought combined with cold wind can be as damaging as when it is combined with heat, in summer.
Shrubs, roses and trees grown from seed sown last spring can now be planted in their permanent positions.
If planting in bad conditions is unavoidable, do all that you can to insulate the plants from them. Mix coarse sand and granulatedinto to mop up and drain at the same time. Remember that evergreens lose water through their leaves constantly and while their roots are settling down, they will not be absorbing water to replace that being lost by the top growth. The result is brown leaves or brown needles, particularly on the windward side. A daily spray overhead with water is essential in cold or windy dry weather, together with a wind barrier and some soil watering.
It could be said that disbudding is a form of pruning, as it involves the removal of shoots, but they are taken away when only 2.5 or 5cm (1 or 2in) long.and vines grown against walls are treated like this during spring and later as needed. For peaches and , each side-shoot should have left on it, one new shoot at its base, one about half way along it to act as a ‘feeder’ (or replacement if need be), and the new growth at its tip, the leader. All the rest should be rubbed off, except the shoot growing immediately next to a fruit, which is pinched back to one leaf. Do this disbudding gradually in about three stages, to avoid shock to the tree. This treatment ensures the growth of new shoots for next year’s crop and the prevention of bare leggy shoots which do not fruit.
Vines are disbudded in spring so that there is only one shoot left at each spur and one shoot at the end of the main branch, or rod. Wherever there is a pair of shoots, the weaker of the two is rubbed off. The remaining shoots on both peaches and vines are tied in as they grow, spacing them evenly.
Cutting- back hard
Evergreenthat have become too tall and bare at the base can be rejuvenated now by removing about half their height. Laurel hedges can be more drastically treated, if your district has warm, wet weather now, by cutting down to stumps about 30 or 45cm (12 or 18in) tall. You will have to do without the hedge for a season or so, but it is a strong shrub and will quickly produce new growth, which you can keep bushy at the base from the start.
You may have already cut some flowers in the natural course of events for the home, but any that have finished on the rhododendrons and pieris should be cut off, otherwise the plants’ energy is concentrated on forming seed instead of new flowering shoots.
Vine-eyes, put to root in late winter, should now be ready for potting into a 13.5cm (5in) pot of good potting compost. They should be kept protected.
Sites prepared for planting should have bonemeal mixed into them at 120g per sq m (4oz per sq yd), if possible a week or so in advance, otherwise the day before. Try to avoid mixing the fertilizer with the soil as you plant, because some roots will inevitably come into contact with the fertilizer; this results in ‘burning’ and the root dies back.
If it has not been done in early spring, feed roses, summer-flowering shrubs and summer-flowering clematis now; also give a general compound fertilizer to hedges and shrubs cut back hard for rejuvenation.
At the beginning of mid-spring, if you want blue hydrangeas rather than pink or red, you can begin to water the soil round the plants with a solution of aluminium sulphate and iron sulphate. Mix 7g (1/4oz) of each in 4.5 litres (1 gal) soft water, leave the solution to stand for a few hours and then give each plant 9 litres (2 gal), watered all over the area which the roots are likely to have reached. Apply every week until flowering time and then give one more dose at some point in early autumn.
You should keep an eye on anything which is newly planted, particularly in dry cold springs, and especially evergreens, wisteria, hydrangea, and any plant planted close to a wall or fence. They are all very vulnerable to a few days without water, unless planted in rather wet soil, and a gentle shower from the hose for a couple of hours every few days until there is rain will help them survive without any harm through a dry period.