Traditionally March is the month for spring bulbs to make their long-awaited appearance. Way back in October and November I planted many new bulbs including outdoor hyacinths that I have never tried before. They are now coming through and I am looking forward to their heady scent wafting across the flowerbeds as I work in the garden.
The precious sparks of spring bulbs are either flowering or just about to come into their own few glorious weeks of dazzling colour. Daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, cyclamen and fritillaries will be looking at their best over the next few weeks alongside hellebores, catkins and pussy willow trees. The last week or so of February brought us warm sunshine and higher temperatures than usual which has resulted in blossom trees bursting open with their frothy pale pink and white blooms and bees are to be seen buzzing around collecting early feasts of nectar. Even some butterflies have been spotted fluttering about in warmer spots around the UK.
British Summer Time starts officially on 27th March this year, but before then there are plenty of things to be doing in the garden borders, the greenhouse and the vegetable patch.
Check out our Brookside Nursery Timely Tips for March –
Time to Plant Bare Roots –
March is the best month to get bare root plants into the ground. Hostas, astilbes, phlox, veronicatrums, roses and sedums can be planted into the ground or pots and will soon establish strong healthy root systems to enable the plants top growth to develop more quickly.
Time to Prune-
Winter stems from established shrubs that have been giving colour and structure to the winter garden can be pruned back in March. This process is known as coppicing. The red, yellow and orange stems of Cornus, (dogwood) shrubs are best pruned to the base so that they will give strong vibrant colours next winter. Other shrubs to prune back hard are Rubus, the white stemmed prickly ornamental and Eucalyptus if you grow this for cut flower arranging and want to keep it a manageable sized shrub.
Time to divide snowdrops –
Clumps of snowdrops can be lifted and divided ‘in the green’, (meaning once the flowers fade and the green leafy growth has not died back). The new smaller groups can then be replanted nearby. This is an economical way of increasing your stocks and enlarging your snowdrop displays.
Time to cut back certain shrubs -
Shrubs that flower on this year’s growth like Buddleia davidii, Spiraea, Lavetera can be cut back now. Group 3 clematis can be cut back to around 30cm, just above a healthy pair of buds. These are the ones that flower later in the summer. If you leave last year’s woody stems on, then the plant will be bare below and the flowers will be higher up.
Time to remove dead stems -
Dead stems of perennial plants can be cut back in March. Those that were left in place to either protect the crown of the plant from the harshest frosts or because they had pretty seedheads that were decorative or a source of food for wildlife can be removed to make way for this season’s growth.
Time to prepare a seedbed –
If you have the space, a small area of soil can be prepared and made ready to sow seeds later in the month. Choose a sunny spot that is sheltered, and dig over the area incorporating some well-rotted manure or compost. This can be covered with a cloche or some plastic sheeting to warm the soil. Hardy annuals, peas and beans can be sown in late March.
Time to put up a nestbox –
Birds like blue tits and robins are looking for new nesting sites so if you want to see baby birds in the garden and watch the parents feeding their young, it is time to put up a nesting box. Place them in a sheltered area not facing the prevailing winds and rain, but not in a hot south facing position either. If you have placed it in the right spot you may soon have a nesting pair of birds to call your own.
More timely tips to come in April so until then,
Have fun in Your Garden!