Spring is in the air, and there’s no better time to start planning and planting colourful displays to enjoy over the months ahead.

For instant impact choose plants at their best through spring including daffodils, tulips, fragrant hyacinth and other flowering bulbs, all perfect for partnering in patio pots and flower beds with seasonal bedding like pansy, viola, wallflower, bellis, forget-me-not, primula and polyanthus.

Growing flowers, crops and herbs from seed is also a rewarding way to grow, and perfect if you’re gardening on a budget. Many gardening activities like sowing, potting, watering and planting bring with them the rewards of nurturing and watching plants grow and flourish. By producing wonderful displays and enjoying the fruits of your labours you’ll be satisfying an intrinsic need for creativity and achievement, both important for our mental health and wellbeing.

Gardening is excellent exercise, too. Gently stretching and bending while planting and weeding helps keep you fit and flexible. More active gardening like digging, clearing, raking, sweeping and lawn mowing will also raise your heart rate, and burn off more calories too. Just an hour of active gardening could use around 250 - 500 calories. So, forget joining an expensive gym and get active outdoors in your garden instead.

If your borders lack structure and impact why not plant some bold evergreen flowering shrubs this spring. A wide range is available now to suit all sites and situations, from viburnum and camellia, to holly and hebe. Hedging plants surround a garden all year with a natural, living screen, or buy evergreen box to clip into fun topiary features.

Always prepare the soil thoroughly, enjoying the gentle exercise of digging deeply while adding organic composts to improve the drainage, structure and composition of your soil. Not only does regular gentle gardening in the fresh air keep you active it also helps release stress and improve mental health, connecting you with the soil and natural world to provide grounding and a sense of wellbeing.

So, spring into action and get your body and garden into shape for the year ahead.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Green Gym run by The Conservation Volunteers uses natural exercise to promote community health. These fun and free outdoor sessions involve activities like tree planting, sowing flower meadows and creating wildlife ponds. By connecting with nature the Green Gym enhances mental wellbeing, helping people contribute something positive to their community. Find out more at www.tcv.org.uk/greengym.

PLANTS OF THE MOMENT:  SPRING COLOUR & SPRING PLANTING

Whether it’s drifts of golden daffodils or a multi-coloured kaleidoscope of tulips, spring bulbs are the perfect choice to fill borders, patio pots and window boxes. Many fill the air with their heady fragrance too, like hyacinth, making them an ideal pot plant to grow indoors.

Keep the colour coming by mixing bulbs with seasonal bedding plants including long-flowering wallflowers, frothy forget-me-nots, bold daisy-like Bellis perennis, pansies and dainty violas, or primulas and primroses. Also choose early flowering hardy perennials like brunnera, epimedium, bergenia, hellebores, euphorbia, and a host of others.

For many, camellias are the plant of choice for classy spring colour, and although they require an acid soil to flourish they can be planted into large pots of ericaceous compost instead.

PLANT SUGGESTIONS:

Any plants providing Spring Colour e.g.

* Spring flowering bulbs
* Spring bedding plants, including Senetti
* Hardy Perennials such as Perennial Wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ AGM), Hellebores, Euphorbia, Bergenia and Bruunera ‘Jack Frost’ AGM
* Green perennials to plant now such as Paeonia, Lupin, Delphinium, Hollyhock (Alcea), Digitalis.

Spring flowering shrubs:

* Erica x darleyensis eg ‘Ghost Hills’ AGM
* Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ AGM
* Oregon Grape - Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’ AGM
* Pieris japonica eg ‘Passion’, ‘Flaming Silver’ AGM
* Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ AGM
* Camellia, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, etc,

INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE?

GARDEN ORGANIC & SUSTAIN
The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and wellbeing
https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/sites/www.gardenorganic.org.uk/files/GrowingHealth_BenefitsReport_0.pdf

HOW MANY CALORIES DOES GARDENING BURN?
SEE:  https://www.fitnessblender.com/articles/how-many-calories-does-gardening-burn-calories-burned-gardening

CALORIE LAB
See: http://calorielab.com/burned/?mo=se&gr=08&ti=lawn+and+garden+activities&q=&wt=150&un=lb&kg=68

MARCH IMAGE CREDIT - Brunera Jack Frost in April © Adam Pasco Media