Spring back to the garden - Top tips from the CWGC's gardening pros

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Spring is coming fast in Europe and the Mediterranean, and suddenly there is so much to do in the garden! The super organised will have been planning in advance all through the winter but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up.

CWGC Brookwood Military Cemetery

CWGC Brookwood Military Cemetery

Not an easy one but it is important to make it enjoyable and achievable. If you don’t enjoy it you will feel unhappy and gardening is all about making you feel good. So, my first tip is to make it enjoyable, make it achievable.

With more than 700 hectares of garden and 800 gardeners in over 150 countries and territories, we at the CWGC try to make it look effortless but our work does contain over a century of horticultural expertise. We do it well and make it look easy!

With spring round the corner our gardeners all over the world will be taking on tasks that you will also probably be thinking about. On a different scale and with cemeteries and memorials in every corner of the world the horticultural conditions and scenarios that we encounter are vast, and that’s what we love about it.

Right now in Northern European and much of the Mediterranean area we will be starting to prepare our borders to improve soil texture and condition, and hoeing any annual weed seedlings that dare to appear.

CWGC Bedford House Cemetery

CWGC Bedford House Cemetery

In April I will be shadowing our teams in Belgium and they’ve promised me some border cultivation tasks if I want to get my hands dirty with them. Franky Colson, Senior Head Gardener based at Bedford House Cemetery in Ieper, has also promised me some sunshine – don’t know if he has got the power to make that happen, but having the opportunity to do some gardening with great professionals in such an amazing landscape, who cares really? He also told me that ‘it’s a good time to come over, we have loads of work for you to do!’ So obviously, I will have to take my Consultancy Services hat off for a bit and get on with the digging if Franky Colson is in charge! More to follow on that one when I get back…

On a more domestic level, what you can do at home can be a lot simpler and less labour intensive. I find that just gently forking in a thin layer of well-rotted manure before your spring planting can be very beneficial if you want the task to be a bit more effortless and tend to work towards the no-dig attitude. Adding the manure will improve structure and help enrich the humus in the top layer of your soil which will also help with water retention during the growing season – we are always looking at ways to reduce watering and this is one of them.

Look out for all of these things when visiting our beautiful landscapes and be sure to ask any questions you have, our gardeners will be more than happy to tell you how they do it!

How to get your garden spring ready:

  • Prepare your borders hoeing annuals and add organic matter like well-rotted manure, leaf mould or your home made compost
  • Lift and divide warm-season grasses like Miscanthus, use two border forks to part the clump
  • Last chance to coppice dogwood 30 cm down to the ground every two years to encourage it to grow as a multi-stem and for a good winter colour display
  • Lay turf or prepare your plot for sowing grass from seed
  • Stake young plants now to give them good support before they need it