March is an exciting month! Go outside on a sunny day and look, listen, smell and feel the atmosphere of the new growth. If you think of any improvements to make, write a list as a reminder.
Bulbs will have leaves or flowers by now so any bare patches will show up. Garden Centres sell bulbs already in bud or flower, ideal for these spaces. If some places need a plant instead, you can choose March flowerers or others which bloom later, to give colour all year. For easy maintenance, choose evergreen plants which cover the ground, smother weeds and will flower also. If you want perennial flowers that are not evergreens, ask staff to point out the long flowering types.
An important job for March is removing small weeds which will have grown on bare ground so they will not grow big and spoil the garden’s appearance. If you have a lot of ground, use a hoe to dislodge them. If you do this on a sunny or windy day the weeds will die. Hoeing will also cut off the tops of deep rooted perennial weeds. When these grow small shoots again, spray them with a Glyphosate weedkiller. You may need to repeat this two or three times.
Rhododendrons and Azalias begin to flower later this month. Rhododendrons have large, matt leaves and grow large quite quickly. Evergreen Azalias are smaller, however, and their shiny leaves, sometimes with purple/red tinges, together with flowers in many bright colours, make a spectacular show. However, Vine weevils can eat the roots, especially in pots, so stand them on ‘pot feet’ to stop the grubs from crawling up into the tubs.
New, small leaves will be appearing on the bare branches of some shrubs now. Snip off any branches which are too long or growing in the wrong direction but don’t do a major prune or you will cut off the flower buds of those shrubs which bloom before June. These include Forsythia, Ribes (Flowering currant), Philadelphus (Mock orange) and Ceanothus (Californian Lilac). After flowering, in July, is the time to prune these back if they need it.
A pleasant and efficient way to learn more about gardening is to walk around your neighbourhood noticing what grows well in other gardens. A walk in the sunshine will help you to find out about plants to grow on your own plot. Pansies are especially valuable, as they grow well in the cooler conditions of winter and spring and also in semi-shade in summer. The marvellous choice of colour in these at Garden Centres makes a spring visit a pleasure (but don’t forget the tea and cake) and Happy Gardening in March!
From Diane Clay at Picturebook Gardens
01234 352967 firstname.lastname@example.org