Shrub and Tree Garden in Early spring
For some weeks now, the days will have been getting noticeably lighter for longer, the dawn chorus will be under way and the temperature will have a slow but steady tendency upwards — even if it does seem to be a case of two degrees up and one down. Another sign that spring is definitely on the way is the fattening and bursting open of buds on roses, shrubs, trees,and some of the fruits. In fact, , and may optimistically be trying to flower outdoors.
Since plant growth is very much on the move, some pruning will have to be finished fairly quickly before it is too late; summer-flowering clematis and buddleia are examples. Annual pruning of large-flowered and cluster-flowered roses can be done. Similarly, winter-flowering shrubs can be tidied up; they rarely need annual or rule-of-thumb pruning. It may also be mild enough to prune some late-summer- and autumn-flowering shrubs.
It is a good time to renovate older and worn-out or straggly hedges, and some shrubs, including the old varieties and hybrids of rhododendrons (not the modern kinds, which do not take kindly to such attacks) by cutting them hard back. Such severe pruning, provided it is done at the right time and combined with feeding, can produce very good results.
A job which can only be done in early spring is grafting various kinds of fruit, either to change the variety or to produce one’s own young trees by grafting stocks. Grafting is not a technique often used by the gardener, but it can be useful, if you find that a particular variety of fruit does not have a good flavour or if you need more or different.
However, as with vegetables and soft fruit, the real rush of plant growth and work does not start until mid-spring; the remainder of the jobs will mostly consist of finishing the winter ones, tidying up, protecting and making preparations for the next season.