Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre


APRIL is, for most people, the start of the gardening season and, for many, it is like a car race, where the aim is to go from 0-100km in a few seconds. This frantic burst of energy can be overpowering and is in danger of taking any enjoyment out of the whole aspect of gardening.

Another factor which has not been around before, is that while the Coronavirus has turned our lives upside down it has given us more time to do jobs that we never got around to doing and, of course, much more time to spend in our garden.

Damp squib

The last thing I want to do is be a damp squib and a downer on what is probably the best time for getting involved in the garden. The truth is, there is no real growth yet, which includes weeds, and therefore, you do have time to go about your gardening in a more planned and relaxing way. We can exclude those that are thinking about doing some gardening but not yet, as time will pass by and the boat will have sailed. So, for anyone out there who wishes to start gardening, now is the time to get organised and with the longer days under warmer conditions, you can achieve a huge amount within the next few weeks.

In simple terms we must play with the cards we have been dealt with and manage as best we can with a good heart and perhaps we can rekindle the community spirit that our elders always had as part of their daily life.’


If we allow it, our moods can follow the seasons and head down during lack of light, dull, wet and cold weather, which is mostly experienced during the winter months and our rise in spirits follows the extra daylight and warmth from spring onwards. It is quite natural that the feeling of wellbeing energises us to be more active in all fields of what we are interested in, and being outdoors seems to super charge us to the extent we want to spend hours there until the approaching darkness forces us to head indoors where we fall tired but happy into a good night’s sleep. These active long days over a period can lead to total exhaustion where even a break of a wet day is welcomed to catch our breath.


To be blunt, the growing season is short enough so I would suggest that if you wish to do some serious gardening that you should get on with it as and when you can during these next few months at least, and to make it easier to plan, just prioritise what you want from your garden space.

It is especially important for those who wish to grow vegetables that no time is lost, whereas those who want flowers and colourful plants including shrubs have less pressure as that season can go on right through the summer.

Make do

It is undoubtedly a more difficult gardening year as the coronavirus has changed everything out of all understanding. Many of the material things and facilities we took for granted are and will be limited this season, and we will have to adjust our expectations and change or compromise on the way we lived previously. In simple terms, we must play with the cards we have been dealt with and manage as best we can with a good heart and perhaps we can rekindle the community spirit that our elders always had as part of their daily life.

There is so much that can be achieved within the garden at little or no cost, and after that small additions or treats can be a bonus when bringing your garden up to scratch, and the rewards in crops or flowers will follow all summer from what you achieve in the next few weeks.


The grass is not growing strongly yet but it is on the move so get cutting and treat weeds, moss, feed and sow any bare patches if you wish within the next six weeks for best effect.

Anyone with roses can give them a final tidy up, and rake around the base of the plants to remove overwintering spores of black spot and finally a slow ground feed which will last the season.

There is, as you can imagine, a huge surge in growing vegetables and they are reasonably easy to grow from sowing direct into the ground from now on but some are offered for sale as young plants in packs of 10 which is useful where only a few plants are needed.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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