Some varieties of Lavender plants will be in full bloom now, filling the surrounding air with their delightful scent, while adding colour and structure to the garden.
Spanish and Italian lavenders flower in winter and spring and should be pruned lightly in late spring.
Summer flowering lavenders should not be pruned until late summer or early autumn, otherwise the flowering spikes will be removed. Bees enjoy the flowers of lavenders, which generally appear in shades of blues and mauves. Forms with green, pink, white and red flowers are also available.
Lavenders originate from the Mediterranean area and, therefore, similar growing conditions should be provided for growing success. Cold winters, warm to hot summers and well-drained soils are their main preferences.
Therefore, when they experience a period of very humid weather, or there is an extended period of rainy weather, they often succumb to fungal disease and rotting of the root system.
This means that lavenders do not generally live for many years in our coastal conditions.
The provision of a slightly alkaline soil at planting time, through the application of a handful of lime to the soil, will be beneficial to the new plant. New varieties of lavenders are available in nurseries and garden centres. In general, these varieties are the winter and spring flowering varieties.
These are the Spanish and Italian lavenders. Flowers have taller petals that appear about the main part of the flower.
One of the more successful Spanish lavenders is "Pukehoe", which was bred in New Zealand. It features five larger petals on the top of each purple flower. Plants grow to about a metre high and 80cm wide, in a compact form. Plants become covered in flowers during the flowering season.
French lavenders have long flower spikes and flower for many months. The leaves are toothed, giving this variety its botanical name of L. dentata. Plants grow well in pots but are also very suitable for mass-planting as a hedge.
In addition to providing ideal situations for planting out lavenders, giving the plants a light trim after flowering has finished will remove the dead flowers, as well as encouraging the production of healthy new growth.
However, it is important to remember that lavender plants should not be pruned back into hard, old wood as this will generally result in the plant dying.
As the weather, and, subsequently the soil, begins to warm, areas of lawn will start to produce new growth.
However, with the new growth often comes a variety of problems. One of the common problems is the appearance of bare patches in the lawn.
This may occur through the application of too much fertiliser. Gardeners will encourage lawns to produce rich, new, strong growth that will provide a good base for the lawns to survive during the hot summer months.
However, an over-application of fertilisers, including organic fertilisers, will result in an excess of nitrogen being applied to the lawn, burning the roots and stems of the grasses.
The use of a purpose-built spreader will ensure an even and appropriate coverage. Random application of the fertiliser from a container will probably result in an uneven spread.
However, applying half the fertiliser in one direction over the whole area, and then applying the remaining half in the opposite direction will assist in ensuring a more even spread.
As lawns produce their new growth a variety of weeds will often also appear. These will generally be broad- leaf weeds such as dandelions, marshmallows, cat's ear, plantain, dock and chickweed.
Lawns that have been well, and appropriately, fertilised will reduce the likelihood of weeds being able to take root as there will be fewer spaces between the grass plants.
The broad-leaf weeds can be removed by hand, using a sharp digging tool to ensure the whole root system is removed from the soil.
A number of "organic" control methods are preferred by some gardeners. In general, it may be necessary for repeated applications before control is obtained.
Adding a mixture of boiling water and vinegar can be applied directly to the individual plants. A cup of salt dissolved in two litres of vinegar can also be applied.
With many gardeners wishing to grow their own vegetables, and the wider range of varieties that are now available, spring is the time to get the vegetable garden ready for planting out.
Drainage should be good and heavy soils should be treated with dolomite or lime before planting takes place. If the soil is sticky clay, then gypsum should be added to improve the structure of the soil. Humus, in the form of straw, hay or mulch will add greatly to the soil.
Many modern gardens have limited space available, so it is preferable to select vegetables that will produce quick-growing crops on smaller plants that can be picked while young. Herbs, carrots, radish, shallots, small leafed lettuces, tomatoes and silver beet will all grow quickly and soon produce crops ready for harvesting.
Successive plantings every couple of weeks will assist in ensuring vegetables over an extended period of time.
Climbing beans can be grown on a lattice or wire mesh support against a wall or fence, although they also crop well, in a limited space, if they are grown on a tripod-styled structure. Wire or string can be placed as support for the plants' tendrils.