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Gardening: Daffodils nearly three weeks later flowering than last year

Daffodil Tete a Tete in flower.
Daffodil Tete a Tete in flower.

It appears ‘better late than never’ looks like the gardening phrase of the year.

We’ve had an unusually wet, cold winter with more snow since at least 2012 (and judging by this weekend weather forecast, some of us are in for more).

The same clump in flower on February 22 last year.

The same clump in flower on February 22 last year.

Early-flowering mini daffodil Tete a Tete is always a good indicator of how bad the winter’s been – and it’s nearly three weeks’ later than last year.

The first flower opened on February 22, 2017 – this year, it was March 13 – from the same patch.

Bulbs that flower early are a sure lift to the spirits and one that I intend to plant more of in autumn.

Make a date in your diary – you will be glad come next winter/spring seasons.

These are those which are on my wishlist:

Early Sensation (30cm): One of the earliest trumpet daffodils to flower. In mild winters, or in sheltered gardens, it can be in bloom in late December or early January, often producing blooms before the foliage has had a chance to reach its full height.

February Gold (under 30cm): Graceful, ideal for naturalising. Golden-yellow flowers are long lasting, blooming at Kew from late January through to early March.

Jetfire (20cm): Usually in bloom by early March – very weather and wind resistant with bright yellow, slightly reflexed petals and a glowing orange trumpet.

Spring Dawn (25cm): Bi-coloured blooms that flower as early as January, with a large soft lemon cup, surrounded by a creamy white perianth.

I also love perfumed daffodils, for more on these, follow this link – https://www.mandycanudigit.com/plants/spring-bulbs/.

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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND

Sow hardy annual flowers in modules if you have space in an unheated greenhouse to give them a faster start.

Sow dwarf French beans under glass in a large pot for an early crop in June.

Plant lily bulbs in pots to transplant into the border.

Take cuttings from Dahlias planted last month to raise new plants.

Divide and/or plant bulbs-in-the-green, such as snowdrops (Galanthus) and winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis), if not done last month.

Check whether containers need watering. Sheltered pots can miss out on any rainfall. Pots and tubs benefit from topping up with fresh compost.

Check autumn-sown sweet peas and apply mouse and slug controls if necessary.

Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced fertiliser (such as Growmore or blood, fish and bone), sprinkling it over the root area before hoeing into the soil surface.

Delay pruning spring-flowering shrubs until after they have flowered. Don’t prune slightly tender evergreen shrubs (such as Choisya, until April), but do tackle hardy types. Remove reverted green shoots on variegated evergreens.

Overgrown climbers can be renovated. Deciduous varieties will be at bud burst now, so you can tell which growth is dead and alive – suitable for Lonicera (honeysuckle), Hedera (ivy) and rambling roses.

Cacti should be kept dormant until spring is definitely underway, then increase watering and feed to bring it into active growth.

On mild days, open vents and doors of greenhouses to reduce humidity and help prevent disease.

Apply a nitrogen feed to plums, cherries, cooking apples, pears and blackcurrants.

Prune blueberries and apply sulphur chips to beds of blueberries, lingonberries and cranberries if needed.

Sow under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas and Swiss chard.