Buying cheap Christmas tree lights from an online auction site, rather from a trusted retailer such as GardenSite, might seem a good idea at the time but you will probably change your mind after reading a recent report from Which?
Although Easter isn't a fixed date each year, it's a sure sign that spring has sprung and that the gardening year has begun. David Coton looks at what you can be doing in your garden this weekend.
If you planted bulbs last autumn, in a pot, naturalised in the lawn or filling space in the border, the garden should now be filling up with colour as yellow and orange daffodils trumpet the arrival of the new season.
A simple display of cut daffodils will revitalise any home after the dark days of winter but, particularly at Easter, lilies are the flower to traditionally fill the air with their delicious scent. Lilium longiflorum, with its fantastic fragrance and elegant white flowers is the mainstay of Easter floral decorations.
The other flower most notable for its association with Easter is the pussy willow (Salix discolor). As spring arrives its catkins unfurl and turn yellow with pollen attracting insects that are just emerging from hibernation.
Insects are not the only ones to get busy in a garden that's probably feeling neglected and in need of loving care. You can start with a general tidy up, the wind has probably blown over pots and containers, bits of which have also been damaged by the frost. Once put right or replaced, top dress with fresh compost.
Complete the spring clean by sprucing up the patio and garden furniture with elbow grease or a pressure washer, check over the garden for any winter damage and make sure your tools are sharp for the work ahead.
If the weather is actually good enough to venture further into the garden, you'll probably find a rather sad-looking lawn. On a dry day it'll be time for the first cut of the year, setting the blades high and making sure the cuttings are collected to avoid clogging up the surface.
Look after your lawn in spring and it will pay dividends later on in the season. After a long winter it will be crying out for a good feed. The resultant healthy growth will make the grass more resilient for the coming year, thickening it and discouraging many potential problems. Click Here to view Lawn Care products.
Weeding doesn't fill many people with the joys of spring, but act now before they get a strong foothold and you'll be so glad later in the season. Don't forget dandelions and other perennial weeds will come back if they are just hoed, so try and lift all the root out or use a weedkiller. Click Here to view Weed Control products.
Early in the year is a great time to tidy up the borders and rearrange any perennials that are just emerging from winter dormancy. Dividing any large clumps will give you extra plants and revitalize the existing ones. Apply a good fertilizer and water well. Click Here to view Fertilizer products.
Now is the time to cut dogwood hard almost to the ground to encourage new growth and ensure brilliant colour. Also prune bush roses removing dead, weak and crossing stems to leave a nice open plant to allow strong summer growth.
Bareroot plants also love to be planted at Easter including hedging, fruit trees and roses. Make sure they never dry out and are kept in water until planted. Dahlia tubers and begonias that have successfully overwintered may now placed in moist compost with the crown exposed in a greenhouse or cold frame. Sweet peas can be sown three to a 3in pot, watered well and placed in a greenhouse for lovely scented flowers in June and July.
Easter is definitely the time to shake off the winter blues personally and in the garden, getting in the mood for the year that lies ahead.
There's no doubt that television provides gardeners with inspiration, sound advice and good ideas, that's why we're all looking forward to new programmes and the return of old favourites during 2020.
Sustainability and a growing awareness of wildlife are two of the key gardening trends identified by the Royal Horticultural Society for 2020, with gardeners in a position where they can make a substantial impact regarding environmental issues.
Gardening is such a popular activity with interest only increasing over recent years that the magazine rack in your local newsagent or supermarket is packed with publications offering inspiration and practical advice.
Although the days are short and the view from our Garden Centre is dull and overcast, David Coton suggests various jobs that can be done in the garden during the month of January.