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Obey these tasks literally at your peril

What, when and how-to gardening guides are very dangerous territory for the gardening writer to spout on about and for the novice gardener to follow.

These tasks, set out on a week-by-week basis, are a very rough guide to when it’s best to do things – and as we all know, there’s no such thing as best.

As I sit here writing this, It’s National Gardening Week and National Gardens Open Day (April 15).

Sleet is hammering against the window and we haven’t seen the sun for five days, with a prolonged bout of wet weather, unusual for this area.

My weather app says it’s 4°C outside and will drop to 2°C, with a widespread frost forecast for Saturday night.

Yet in London this week the temperature has hit 17°C – almost ‘Phew, wot a scorcher weather.’

A bucket full of ice I took great pleasure in smashing, December 2012
A bucket full of ice I took great pleasure in smashing, December 2012

In Braemar, Aberdeenshire, it’s -2°C; in Manston, Kent, it’s 14°C at almost 5.30pm. We live in a funny old country and it’s vital you know your area and its little foibles.

My garden doesn’t get as much frost as others, as one side is a brick wall, which gives out stored heat overnight. However, it gets battered by swirling winds from any old direction.

The soil, being clay you can make pots out of, takes a long time to heat up in spring, especially the bits shaded by the hedge.

The best thing to do if you feel you’re falling behind with jobs is DON’T PANIC. You and the plants will catch up. We had a terrible March in 2013 which was absolutely freezing, following on from a really cold December, yet there was no delay in perennials.

What DID delay matters was trying to battle the elements, putting out plants that couldn’t stand the weather, they died and then had to be resown.

A lesson for us all.