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Monday 28 February 2022

This Month in Your Garden - March

‘Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.’ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster 

About ten days ago, Iris Reticulata (dwarf Iris) splashed colour between small evergreen shrubs. Little early heralds of spring in a new border we created last September. They have been joined by Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête' and their taller cousins as the snowdrops fade and the pink buds of Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai open to reveal their delicate white flowers and pink centres. After the storms and rain we are really beginning to feel the garden calling. 

Originally a rose bed which had been allowed to become untidy, the border was cleared and raised using sleepers and topsoil. Only the Fuji cherry and roses were retained and the foreground planted with two offset and interspersed rows of plants for autumn colour, winter interest and now flowering into spring and summer. There’s another gardening quote from the poet and novelist, May Sarton: ‘A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself’. 

We await, with excited anticipation, the progress of this new border. A list of the planting is below. So, to the jobs we can be doing now. Prepare seed beds and, in mild areas, even sowing sweet peas and hardy annuals. Sow summer bedding plants in a heated propagator. Take spring cuttings of tender bedding plants such as marguerites, pelargoniums and petunias. Snowdrops can be divided and replanted after flowering along with winter aconites and hardy cyclamen. Polyanthus and primrose can be divided after flowering to make several plants. Top dress containers with fresh compost and plant layered carnations, chrysanthemums, dahlias, pansies and violas but heed frost warnings. Why not order plug plants from the catalogues and grow them on ready to plant out when the frosts have passed.      

Plants we put in the new border for year-round interest: Anemone Pretty Lady Emily, Penstemon Phoenix, Agapanthus Flower of Love, Daphne, Heuchera Georgia Plum and Heuchera Milan, Phormium Veneer, Hebe Blue Star, Escallonia, Potentilla Abbots Wood, Euphorbia, Campanula Garden Star, Lavender Hidcote, Choisya Sundance, Rudbeckia, Echinacea Sun Seekers, Helenium Sundae, Nepeta Persian Blue, Santolina, Geranium Mrs. Kendal Clarke

March heralds the start of spring gardening and you could say by mid-March spring has arrived. The weather is looking fairly typical with sunny days but beware the frosty nights. Last month we commented on the early daffodils appearing, this month we can begin gardening in earnest. The frosts will have been beneficial to the soil, breaking it down and now it’s time to get going, preparing seed beds and in mild areas even sowing hardy annuals and sweet peas. Otherwise you can be sowing seeds in small pots or trays of compost to germinate in a warm place. 

But if you don’t have a warm, bright place, temperature 10C (50F) to grow the plants on, wait until April or early May. A tip when sowing seeds in compost trays: let the compost come to room temperature because cold compost will inhibit germination. In early spring, plant herbaceous perennials such as Astrantia, Geranium and Oriental poppies, along with summer-flowering bulbs, making sure the bulbs have good drainage. Plant and move snowdrops, winter aconites and hardy cyclamen and split polyanthus after flowering to make several plants. Sow under glass everything you like from antirrhinums to zinnias for swathes of colour come summer, or buy plug plants of your favourites to grow on for planting out after the frosts have gone.

  • Plant Anemone coronaria in well-drained soil
  • Take spring cuttings of tender bedding plants such as pelargoniums, marguerites and petunias
  • Sow summer bedding plants in a heated propagator or under glass
  • Keep autumn-sown sweet peas in a sunny position in the greenhouse
  • Plant layered carnations, chrysanthemums, dahlias, pansies and violas but heed frost warnings
  • Protect new shoots from slugs
  • Top dress containers with fresh compost
  • Deal with weeds before they deal with you
  • Divide flesh-rooted plants such as hostas
  • Plan a crop of cut flowers for summer

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