Spring gardening tips: From our garden to yours
Spring is an uplifting and hopeful time of year for many of us as we watch the natural world burst into life.
The arrival of blossom is one of many things we love about spring, so our gardeners are sharing their tips to help you create your own blossom display at home.
We're also giving you a preview of our new book, The National Trust School of Gardening, so you can make the most of seasonal colour in your own garden.
Spring is in full flow and it’s a busy time for planting, but there’s still a risk of late frosts so watch the weather forecast and be ready to cover tender seedlings. It’s also important to keep on top of the weeds as they can rob young plants of much-needed water and nutrition.
You can also trim hardy perennials such as lavender and aubrieta to encourage new growth and flowering. If well established, herbaceous perennials can be divided to improve their vigour and the overall design of your garden. Shrubs and trees in containers should be given a regular liquid feed to promote leaf production and growth.
If you have a lawn, you may want to join the growing trend of leaving it uncut through April and May to attract bees and other pollinators.
The National Trust School of Gardening is a book packed full of tips, ideas, guides and illustrations inspired by the places we care for. It has all the information you need to transform your own garden or growing space and is suitable for both new and experienced gardeners. To celebrate the launch of the book on 1 April, we're sharing the first chapter and a video featuring the author Rebecca Bevan exploring the world of colour at Packwood House in Warwickshire.
Even if you have a small garden you can create an eye-catching display of spring blossom. The key to success is choosing the right trees or shrubs for the space you’ve got. Unless you’re planting your tree during the dormant season between November and March, it’s best to buy container-grown plants.
How do I choose the right tree?
Personal taste, colour and smell are obvious criteria for selection, but remember to check the plant’s soil preferences and most importantly its final growing size (see tree types below).
Do I need a big space?
Even small spaces can accommodate a container shrub but remember this will need regular feeding and watering.
If you’ve got space for more than one tree, think about how they will complement each other: flowering in sequence or contrasting colours. You may want a tree with multi-season interest or one that produces fruit.
Do I need to use fertiliser?
There's no need for fertiliser, it will just feed the weeds. Regular watering is good for your tree as is a layer of bark chip or other mulch that will suppress the weeds.
Do I need a stake?
It's best to avoid a stake unless it's a large tree. This is because trees can become dependent on stakes rather than supporting themselves.
Choosing the best blossom tree for your garden
Are you inspired to plant your own blossom tree? Our gardeners have come up with a list of their favourite blossom trees for home gardens.
Manchurian Siberian crab apple (Malus baccata var. mandshurica)
This small to medium-sized (up to 12m) apple tree flowers from late April into May and is known for its fragrant white blossom and delicious autumn fruits. Another advantage is that it requires only basic tree husbandry with little or no pruning. This tree, native to eastern Asia, can also be used in orchards as a pollinator.
Dwarf Russian almond (Prunus tenella ‘Fire Hill’)
Suitable for even the smallest gardens and growing spaces, this low-growing and spreading shrub has the most beautiful, bright rose-pink blossom in April. Its Siberian origin also makes it very hardy in even the coldest areas.
Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum)
A large shrub or small tree with a big reputation for bountiful, pink pea-like flowers. This is the perfect choice for a small garden, although its history is at odds with its beauty. This is reputedly the same species of tree from which one of the 12 Apostles, Judas Iscariot, was hanged.
Cultivated pear (Pyrus communis)
There are around 1,000 cultivated varieties of the common garden pear. The flowers appear in April and don’t vary greatly from one variety to another, so base your choice on the size or quality of fruit. Pruning in summer and winter helps the tree keep its shape and improves the blossom and quality of fruit.
Kanzan cherry (Prunus 'Kanzan')
Prunus Kanzan (pictured left) is the most popular and readily available of the Japanese flowering cherries. This vigorous and wide-spreading tree grows quickly to over 10m in height. Its abundant flowers are the sweetest sugar pink and it also displays dazzling marmalade-orange autumn colour.
Discovery apple (Malus domestica ‘Discovery’)
Best known for its rosy-red apples, this small tree has the added benefit of lovely pure white blossom from late April. For small garden spaces, choose one grown on a small rootstock to reduce the need for drastic pruning later on.
Tulips have long been a popular flower, especially in the Netherlands. In the 1600s, a single bulb could cost more than a smart Amsterdam townhouse.
There are plenty of Iris varieties that can be grown throughout the year, but in spring the electric-blue blooms of Iris reticulata are the ones to look out for.
Hyacinths come in a range of colours: from classic deep indigo through to pinks, purples, magentas and whites. They’re a great choice for fragrance.
Snake's head fritillary
These pink-and-purple-chequered flowers are said to resemble the head of a snake, hence the name. They’re usually found in meadows and some wilder gardens.
Alliums offer a great burst of colour and drama in late May, marking the transition into summer.