This Month in the Garden – March 2014

TMITG_ds1February has been just as wet as January so I wonder what March will bring. The soil is still likely to be wet and cold and we are all likely to be getting behind with things. That makes it all the more important to get jobs done on days when there is a break in the weather and to use wet days to do things in the green house or indoors …

Increasingly accurate weather forecasting is a big help in planning this. In spite of the number of wet days I still have a lot of seed trays and plastic pots that need washing. If you have got cloches or sheets of flexible transparent roofing that you can fix in a ‘u’ shaped tunnel they will help to dry and warm the soil.

Quite a few vegetables can be started off under glass, in  a propagator or on the windowsill. Cabbages, leeks, peas and lettuce are well-worth starting and many annual flower seeds can be sown in March.

Fruit tree pruning should have been done by now but a lot of other pruning needs doing. This is the best time for shrub roses and evergreens can be trimmed if they need it. This is also a good time for moving evergreen shrubs and flowering perennials can be lifted and divided.

Very probably you haven’t managed to do much winter digging but, when the soil is dry enough, the vegetable patch should be turned over or at least gone over with a hoe. Weed and tidy up the flower beds whenever you can.

If you grow grasses they will need some attention. Deciduous grasses ( the ones that look pretty dead though, probably with some new growth now) should have the dead grass cut out as low as possible without destroying  too much new growth. Evergreen grasses are best treated by ‘combing’ them with a hand fork to remove dead material and trimming back some of the lankier growth. Any dead seeding stems should be cut out at the base. Pull or cut out as much dead matter as possible from pampas grass and trim back the wispy top growth. Wear tough gloves when delving into pampas grass.

I hope you have all had the chance to enjoy snowdrops either in your own garden or in one of the fairly local show gardens. My snowdrops are spreading quite well now and I wish I had started with them rather earlier than I did. If you have got areas of grass where they can be naturalised ( under trees perhaps) or parts of borders near shrubs where they won’t be disturbed too much they are well worth growing. Buy them now “in the green” or lift and divide your own once they have clumped up well and have finished flowering. Cyclamen coum or winter aconites make attractive companion plants for snowdrops and they are happy in wooded shady areas where they won’ be disturbed.. There is a good article on winter aconites in the January edition of the RHS “The Garden” magazine.

Jeremy Arthern


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