CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Toby Buckland says get out in the garden at Easter!

PUBLISHED: 13:11 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:07 05 April 2013



You can feel it in the air – spring has arrived in Devon, and it's wonderful! Sweet violets and primroses shine out in the hedgerows and you can almost hear the rush of growth as buds burst from the bare stems...

Toby Buckland delivers some sound practical and seasonal advice

You can feel it in the air spring has arrived in Devon, and its wonderful! Sweet violets and primroses shine out in the hedgerows and you can almost hear the rush of growth as buds burst from the bare stems. This means one thing its time to wake up your garden and make the most of the rapidly lengthening days and the abundance of spring energy.

What to do now

Its safe to fill gaps left in the wake of winter wet and cold, making sure that new pots are thoroughly watered before going in the ground to guard against spring drought while they establish. If youre replacing a suspected winter-casualty, before confining it to the compost heap scrape away some of the bark, as if theres green sap you can give the shrub a reprieve. Pot up dahlias and canna lilies, and plant onion sets into the weed-free beds. Its also time to plant potatoes into trenches lined with manure, compost, or as my old Uncle Bob used to do, seaweed gathered from the beach. It really adds to the flavour, although you are meant to check with the owner of the beach before you take any. Out in the borders, finish pruning roses and set to work tackling weeds, which is a stitch-in-time job thats worth making. If you get on top of them now youll be set for the rest of the summer.

Plant of the Month

Devon is blessed with a warmer climate, particularly in the coastal areas, and this means we can grow some truly exciting plants, including banana, ginger lilies and my favourite foliage plant, Melianthus. At this time of year, the unfurling blue-green leaves have the delicacy of a fern frond with the exotic exuberance of a tropical palm. Like all foliage plants it requires a sheltered spot protected from leaf-tearing winds and the warmth of a south- or west-facing aspect. The plant in my garden faces east but thanks to a free-draining soil has faced down the recent cold winters, bouncing back with fresh peanut-butter scented leaves every spring. In warm years these are topped with gently arching flower spikes that curve towards their tip like the bushy tip of a red squirrels tail. Inside each burgundy bloom sits a blob of sweet nectar, from where Melianthus Major or Honey flower gets its name.

Time to sow seeds

My favourite March job is seed-sowing. Its time to start tender crops like chillis, tomatoes and aubergines in the greenhouse or on a windowsill, along with sweet peas and petunias. Hardy annuals can be sown directly outdoors, such as Lollo lettuce, radish and early peas, along with cottage gardenannuals like cornflowers, larkspur and pot marigolds. Always read the seed packet as tiny seeds like begonia need to be left uncovered otherwise they wont sprout. Tomatoes and seeds of similar size need just a sprinkle over their head to just cover. Whatever the seed, always use fresh compost as old from last year cancontain damping-off fungi that attacks and kills the seedlings. Victorian gardeners checked to see if the earth was ready for sowing by sitting bare-bottomed on the earth. If it was comfy enough for their derrires then it was cosy enough for the seeds. Perhaps a technique to try when the neighbours arent looking!


More from Homes & Gardens

Thursday, November 22, 2018

We’ve spoken to the New Continental Hotel in Plymouth to find out why they think a weekend or city break in Devon is perfect for families, couples and everyone else!

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NATALIE MILLAR-PARTRIDGE relaxes at a family-run Dartmoor retreat where the emphasis is on the glorious environment it sits in

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ex-Chelsea footballer Colin Lee came home to Devon and built an incredible multi-million pound waterside house. CHRISSY HARRIS takes a look around

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Green, renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more popular for domestic use. We talk to Jay-Dee Williams at Energie about thermodynamic solar panels: the fuel efficient, cost-effective way to heat the water in your home

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fig Tree Court is a development of 14 apartments in Tiverton for retired and semi- retired over-55s with gorgeous views over the Grand Western Canal

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Converting a crumbling barn into a luxury bolthole takes some doing. Chrissy Harris went to see the results of an ambitious family project | Photos: Rob Coombe

Read more
Friday, August 3, 2018

From a hot tub Land Rover to a Romany caravan, Claire Saul picks out 7 Devon holiday lets that make hot topics for conversation

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two former city dwellers have found peace, quiet and a stunning home in an East Devon village. CHRISSY HARRIS went to visit The Old Rectory in Plymtree

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

The redevelopment of some rural Devon barns has unearthed a very unique link with our greatest statesman

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A creative couple with a passion for nature took on a derelict farmhouse in North Devon and used it to inspire their life’s work. CHRISSY HARRIS went to find out more | Photos: Matt Austin

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The luxury tree top escape is nestled in the grounds of The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in the North Devon countryside

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search