The first breath of spring shows itself in more sheltered spots towards the end of the month, when the first almond blossoms appear.
An almond tree puts on about half a metre of growth a year and can quickly reach gigantic proportions, making maintenance difficult, and nut cropping almost impossible. Almond trees are best pruned in late summer or you would be removing the flower buds. Pecan trees can reach 20-30 metres if they are not curtailed, and then the crows would get all the nuts! Pruning, the removal of dead, diseased and crossing branches, is a vital part of the success of your fruit and nut trees. Although the ground should be moist after all the rain, we have had, it is relatively cold and it would be better to wait until February until you plant any new trees and shrubs. Ideally, late October and November are the best times for this, as the earth is still warm then, and there is usually some rain to help things along.
In the garden, Jasminum mesnyi will be showing off the lovely bright yellow single or sometimes double blooms. In some warmer gardens Jasminum officinale will still be in flower, but if you want to enjoy the scented flowers in the summer, then you must prune this year’s stems right back to the main branches of the bush now. As a general rule, bushes and climbers that flower early on in the season are pruned after flowering. This also applies to lavenders and rosemary bushes as well. Many succulent plants will be coming into flower too. Others that have swelled with the recent rain are Aeonium arboreum with their broccoli-like heads soaring above the ground. Protect any Agave attenuata now, as they very vulnerable to winter cold, much preferring a hot sunny spot in which to grow a huge flower stem. Once it has had a flower, then the plant will die. Roses seem to have flowered for ages too this season and may still be in flower now. However, roses need a rest period and some professional rose breeders take off all the leaves after pruning back the plant. After 3 or 4 weeks, they start to feed them again.
Some spring bulbs will be showing through the earth now, so keep your eye on them as slugs find their fleshy leaves delectable. Deadhead the early narcissus so that they don’t make seeds. You want the bulbs to concentrate on producing a flower for next season.