Gardening: Spring a welcome sight after bleak winter

THIS year we will be welcoming spring with open arms after the wet, bleak winter.

Spring brings not only warmth and new growth on trees and shrubs, it gives us the garden's big bang for the year - colour, colour and more colour.

Flowering deciduous trees begin budding, peaches, plums and crab apples blossom, adding their once-a-year blooms to the beautiful deciduous magnolias already in flower, standing tall above the pinks of diosma and the old-fashioned white May bush.

Garden trends, unfortunately, don't encourage mass planting of annuals, but check out the gardens that do have the wonderful colours of primula, cineraria, sweet peas and pansies planted amongst beds of jonquils, daffodils, hyacinth and tulips.

It just wouldn't be spring without the perfume of these beautiful bulbs.

Now to spring jobs - first, lawns.

Don't fertilise until the grass is growing quickly enough that you have to begin mowing.

The first chore should be to eliminate weeds - spray on a fine day, allowing 4 to 6 hours of sun on unmown grass.

Select your product carefully as some chemicals can damage certain lawns.

Top priority should be given to fertilising in spring - don't just fertilise a favourite plant, kick start the entire garden with the appropriate fertiliser.

Keeping in mind for example that natives don't like man-made fertiliser. Apply blood and bone instead or a designated native fertiliser.

Acid-loving plants such as gardenia, camellias and murrayas need cow manure, while those preferring an alkaline base should be given poultry manure.

Try Bounceback, which is suitable for most applications.

Pruning is an equally important spring task.

Most trees and shrubs can be safely pruned now, but be careful not to cut back those that are going to produce flowers over the next couple of months.

Tropical plants such as bougainvillea, Asian bell trees and hibiscus should not be cut back until the weather really warms - perhaps in October.

Indoor plants should be fertilised now and repotted if necessary. Turn the soil's surface and top up with peat moss then begin regularly feeding with a foliant fertiliser.

NOTE: For those curious gardeners appreciating the beautiful spring display in the park at The Junction - the flowers planted are ranunculas. Congratulations to council staff for their efforts to provide a great splash of colour.

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