March represents the official start of Spring!
Expect changes in the garden as plants begin to come alive. Spring-flowering bulbs and shrubs start to show. Look out for daffodils (Narcissus), Crocus vernus, Chaenomeles x superba ‘Knap Hill Scarlet’, Daphne mezereum, Primula ‘Miss Indigo’ and so much more….
More hours of daylight mean more time in the garden, which is good as there are plenty of jobs to do this month.
- The wet of winter will continue to takes it toll. Paving and decking should be cleaned to reduce mould, mosses and algal growth to prevent slipping. Walking on lawns, beds and borders should be kept to a minimum in order to avoid soil compaction and damage.
- Tidy flower borders, cutting back old growth, and dress with compost. Mulch bare soil in beds and borders.
- Move evergreen shrubs.
- Trees and shrubs growing in permanent containers benefit from an annual topdressing in the years between repotting. Remove the top 5cm (2in) of old compost and replace with new, mixing in some controlled-release fertiliser granules.
- Put slug and snail controls in place around perennials such as delphiniums and hostas whose young shoots are commonly attacked by these garden pests.
- Lift and divide overgrown perennials.
- Prune bush and shrub roses. To support strong, new growth, feed afterwards with a general-purpose or proprietary rose fertiliser and mulch with well-rotted manure.
- Prune shrubs with colourful winter stems (Cornus and Salix)
- Now that flowering has finished, prune Viburnum x bodnatense cultivars, cutting out up to one in five of the oldest, weakest stems to the base.
- Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
- Put supports in place for perennials.
- Sow hardy annuals outside.
- Reseed bare patches in the lawn.
- In mild weather, give the lawn its first cut, with the mower on a high setting.
- Take pumps out of store and put them back in the pond, and begin feeding fish.
- Begin successful planting of hardy leaf and root vegetables.
- Sow leek, early beetroot, peas, lettuce, onion sets and shallots outside. When the soil is workable plant onion and shallot sets in rows, allow 5-10cm (2-4in) between onion sets (15-20cm/ 6-8in between shallot sets), planting them so that bulb tips are visible above the soil.
- Sow tomato, sweet pepper, squash and courgette seeds inside.
- Plant early potatoes at the end of the month.
- To encourage healthy new growth, tidy strawberry plants now. Remove dead, damaged or diseased leaves, old runners and fruit.
- In addition to herbs such as basil and parsley, which you can continue to sow under glass, you can now also begin to sow hardy herbs direct into outdoor beds.
- This is the last chance to plant bare-root trees and shrubs and new fruit trees and bushes. Check the integrity of bird netting over gooseberry bushes to ensure continued protection from bullfinches, which like to eat developing buds.
- March is the start of the main breeding season for garden birds. Leave out materials such as wool, fresh straw and pet hair to help them with nest building.
- Spring is a good time to plant herbaceous perennials. Those such as cranesbill (Geranium species), elephat ear (Bergenia species) and bugle (Ajuga reptans) provide pollen and nectar for pollinators.
There are many lovely gardens to visit this month, a few are listed below.
Buscot Park, Faringdon, Oxfordshire.
Batsford Arboretum, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.
Hidcote Manor Garden, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.
Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, Gloucestershire.