Spring: A Most Dangerous Time

My dearest garden blogging friends,

My hearty congratulations to you all. It's spring and your gardens are looking fresh and lovely: there's lots of colour - especially yellow - plus lots of fluffy, fuzzy green is peeping above the soil and on all those branches. You've done a great job the past few weeks - you've tidied everything up, pruned and weeded where needed and now your plants are luxuriating under their new layers of mulch, compost and poultry poo.

What's that..., you think things are looking a bit gappy? I urge caution dear reader. You may have overwintered enough plants to stock a small nursery; you may think it's time to give your garden a bit of a revamp; you may find lots of plants crying out Buy me! at your local garden centre, specialist nursery or plant sale. But remember, you are at your weakest point. You've spent all winter looking at catalogues, dreaming of your ideal garden and how different things will be this year. Your resistance is at its lowest ebb. You've not bought a plant in months, except maybe in seed form, so your purse is crying out to be opened and that desirable little something you've espied bought home to grace your garden.

This is where you must take a deep breath and be strong. Think: Is that really a gap I see over there? Look back at last year's photographs - it could be where your Dahlias will poke their noses through their duvet, or where that tiniest little bit of green you see at the moment plumps up to fill that space entirely. Yes I know you've got lots of pots positively demanding to be planted out. First you must think a little more creatively: is there somewhere in your garden which isn't planted at the moment? Yes, I knew it - that gravel in the side garden is positively crying out for those delicious Iris reticulata you bought at the RHS Show (thanks for the idea James). What really could be replaced? Well, those dead plants you've been nurturing in those pots over there for a couple of years can be whipped out and that nice tree fern plus the 'Congratulations' rose C from choir gave you put in their place.

Consult your photographs again. Is there something that isn't working in your garden - the Forsythia in the corner perhaps? Again be strong and don't get too sentimental: if it wasn't working then, it's unlikely to do so this year. Take it out immediately, before you've got time to think about it: it'll be far more valuable to you as compost or shredded into mulch. Have a look at your nursery area and the plants surrounding the one you've just removed. Select something to complement what's there perfectly - mmm, the Syringa meyeri 'Palibin' that Threadspider gave you last year would look good - and plant it with love and care. If you don't have anything suitable, only then should you contemplate the selection awaiting you elsewhere.

My friends, heed my advice whilst there's still time. Otherwise you'll find yourself with nearly 60 pots of plants you've gathered over a couple of years or so needing a home - just like I have. Spring really is a most dangerous time of the year - especially if you're a plantaholic gardener like me ;)

Love n stuff,

Your very own VP

Thanks to Easygardener for giving me this idea from a comment she left on my post last Sunday.


  1. Of course, if you really are running out of room, I'm happy to adopt unwanted plants... I have more gaps than planting in my garden despite dividing like a loon over the last month. This is something that frustrates me but perhaps I should revel in the luxury of knowing I have room for so many more.

  2. This did make me laugh. Only this morning I was looking at the garden and thinking whilst there seems to be alot of earth sowing at the moment I must remember that things will fill out. I will have to curtail my spending at the Malvern show and the Rare Plant Fair at Spetchley in April and be really discriminatory about what I buy. But then again there is a really delicious Iris on J Parkers web site today!!!!!
    Let me know when you are going to Malvern show - I'm thinking of going on the Friday

  3. Hi VP, thanks for the warning. Excitement builds as the nurseries and big box stores fill up with plants in robust health and fabulous colors. Nothing must be purchased unless it has a place intended, that is the mantra as the aisles are perused, but they all look so beautiful! You have 60 pots of unplanteds? You need help, my friend! :-)

  4. VP, have you visited my garden when I wasn't looking or are you reading my mind! I am sure you put this post up just for me, it is so relevant. I thought it was funny but Oh! so true. I was looking out the window at our backgarden this morning and a pot of Aconitum (Monk's Hood) waiting for a home, thinking there's a bare patch it could go in there. But I am sure it wasn't a bare patch last year, so I will heed your advice and wait.

    Thank you and best wishes Sylvia

  5. Oh such wise words from your lips VP but too late to save me from lapsing :( Came home from the garden club last night with two more plants to add to the to be planted national collection. No idea where they are all going to be fitted in - maybe some will have to go to the lottie. I have peeked into your coldframe and can see some fine looking heucheras there - get them planted woman :)

  6. This was just a wee bit too late for me - I unwisely went to a garden centre whilst in a very good mood last week. The resulting spending spree means that the area by my back door now looks more like a Burmese jungle than a Derbyshire doorstep - AND it's rained every day since, so I haven't been able to hide the evidence of my profligacy by planting it!

  7. Wise words my friends... my purse strings are tightly tied...

    ... exept for a Japanese Quince that I needed for the back wall...

  8. VP ! You have truly cracked me up this morning .. BUT .. this is so true : ) .. my back garden is in such a state and no garden centers are opened yet .. so I have a cooling off period to stick to .. before I do anything else other than gather root plants and seeds .. I swear I have a plan and a cool logical mind .. right ? right? ... RIGHT ? !!!!!!

  9. Dear VP, I have so been there, but so far have avoided trying to fill the gap! Of course, the nurseries are slow to get all the beauties that usually tempt me at this time of year! But wait, what do I see on the calendar! The annual wildflower fair is the first weekend in April and the Perennial Plant Association sale is also that weekend...oh, my they have added a daffodil show! It may be hard, but I will try to keep your counsel; it is sage advice! gail


  10. Excellent advice, as always, VP. It is indeed a dangerous time for gardeners. We must be resolute, though, and very brave in the face of so many empty spaces...;-)

  11. I think I can safely (smugly?) say I have no plants waiting to be planted in my garden. On the other hand, i have a cupboard full of seeds I haven't even got started on... Oh, and then there are the self-seedlings that I need to dig out and pot up for friends...

  12. Fantastic advice! I've been just itching to going on a plant shopping spree even though I already have plants waiting for a place in the garden. You're so right, it looks empty now, it looks like I could plant more, but my babies are just poking their heads out of the ground, they'd have no place to grow. I must settle for weeding and planting seeds. I mustn't fall into the trap!

  13. Over the course of two summers i have planted around 300 potted plants and some bulbs. lots of digging but sadly, I never learn my lesson.

  14. But what fun would that be? There'd be no need to do the Garden Waltz with plant in hand, trying to figure out where to put it.

  15. Delightful post VP - gave me a big smile first thing - of course I am in the fortunate position of re-stocking a complete garden - so I have loads of spaces and no money to buy plants (lol) - but you should see my seed collection.
    Have a great weekend

  16. Are there any twelve-step programs for gardeners in spring?

  17. What I have is loads of biennials sown last year crying out to be planted, plus all the cuttings I took which are ready to go. Darn't go anywhere near a garden centre!

  18. Amazingly (and knowing it's wrong) I am still looking for spaces in the garden borders. A little voice is whispering that a plant is probably dead - that's why I can only see the marker.
    I felt perfectly safe as long as I don't leave the house. Now Patient gardener has mentioned J Parker's website.

  19. Dawn - I've just cleared a massive space in the garden - I've just reached the OMG what have I done stage, so I think my plants will be going in there shortly!

    PG - glad my warning was timely. I'm thinking of Friday at Malvern too :)

    Frances - I most certainly do ;)

    Sylvia - I'm so glad you enjoyed it - perhaps I caught the vibes coming up from Dorset?

    Anna - I love your phrase 'national to be planted collection' :D

    Nutty Gnome - that'll teach you! Garden Centre + good mood - that's a very dangerous combination ;)

    Tree Sparrow - welcome and thanks for following. No, there must be no exception. Except for that rather nice...

    Joy - I know your style and it involves buying/sowing lots of plants :0

    Gail - 3 in 1 go? You'll find it soooo hard to resist my friend.

    Susan - and my empty spaces have just got very big indeed. So I must chant the mantra 'I have 60 plants needing to find a home' not 'I've just created a large hole in the garden that needs to be filled' ;)

    Victoria - what, you've planted up that backlog you admitted to last year? I'm most impressed!

    wormandflowers - but it's an easy trap to fall into. Be strong and welcome!

    flowgrl1 - that's pretty impressive - so the odd 60 I have is pretty small beer then, right? ;)

    MMD - I've just spent a whole afternoon doing the Garden Waltz. What a perfect way of putting it :)

    SOL - thank you!

    Karen - that's the beauty of gardening for a living you can indulge yourself :)

    Kate - no, I think we need one!

    Elizabethm - avoidance could be the best policy for us all under the circumstances

    EG - PG was very naughty when she did that. I'd forgotten that I'd hidden the brochure until she let that slip...


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you and welcome thoughtful conversations :)

Comments aiming to link back and give credence to commercial websites will be composted!

Your essential reads

Review: Riverford Recipe Box with guest chef Sarah Raven

How not to look after your Pilea peperomioides

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: 'Just Add Cream'

How to make a show judge's life harder

Dessert Apple Jelly: Seasonal Recipe

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Postcard from Texas

Review: Stihl Compact Cordless Blower BGA 56

Snow Time