1st March 2018
Marvellous March is the month where everything starts growing, the soil has warmed, and the fluroscent spring green tips are emerging as plant leaves explode, but this is the month where you can sow everywhere: indoors, outdoors, in pots and on balconies …. the growing year has officially opened. The spring blossom is now abundant from daffodils, mascuri, to potted hyacynths (a great Easter treat as they smell delicious) to early tulips but the crowning glory I think goes to the Magnolia.
I love Magnolias from the delicate Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ with delicate pink party streamer effect petals which is long flowering to the magnificant goblet sized petals of the Magnolia x soulangeana(main picture) which has a range of colours from deep rose to shell pink. But my favourite is Magolia ‘Susan’, it has deep reddish purple scented flowers and, is a great small upright tree to 3m compared with my other favourite Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ which also has fragrant rosy pink blossoms but stands taller at 8-10meters, so depends on how big your garden is!
JOBS TO DO
Weed boarders, then apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture which also helps keeps weeds down.
Divide clumps of snowdrops after flowering. This also goes for herbaceous perennials and dormant grasses like Milium and Calamagrostis.
Trim back Cotton Lavander(Santolina Champ.), Lavenders, Thyme and Sage taking care not to cut into old wood so ensure there is leaf buds below the cuts.
For willows and dogwoods, to get the best colourful stems each year now is the time to cut them down to within 5cm of the old wood or near ground level to encourage vigorous young colourful shoots. These can be saved to create ‘Plant Supports’ in the boarder or used to make a uniqued textured basket or tray. Check out our wonderful courses running this spring.
Or Free Plants – many of the shrub and climbers being pruned at the moment will hopefully take root and grow. So have a go, take a 10-20cm trimming from – Buddleja, Clematis ‘Bill Mackenzie’, Dogwoods, Elder, Lavender, Shrub honeysuckle, Sage, willow Rosemary, winter Jasmine. Push into the ground, perferabbly a shady bed and occassionally water.
Now is also the time to sow any left over sweet pea seeds. Sow in pots to plant out when 5cm tall and prepare the area to be planted in with well rotted compost and a great climbing structure.
This is also are really good time to apply ‘Top Buxus’ a plant feed to buxus hedging as the risk of blight is high, and I think this works well in strengthening the plants, so watch out for any signs of blight. rhs.org.uk
THE VEG PATCH
If the soil is warm, more than 8 degrees then growth will start, if not try adding a fleece, black membrane or a cloche and be patient.
Divide clumps of chives and mint
Slugs and snails are now on the rampage so protect with various products or a biological control of Nemaslug watered onto the soil, which will work for up to six weeks or the bucket and torch technique!
Plant Raspberry and other Cane fruit
Sow tomato seeds – I picked up some essential tips on varieties to grow this year starting with – ‘Sugar Plum Raisin F1’ masses of small and sweet tomatoes, ‘Lizzano F1’, Blight tolerant with cherry sized fruit. or ‘Crimson Crush F1’ large round tomatoes breed for outdoors and resistant to shrug of blight. kitchengarden.co.uk
Peas, broad beans, leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers spinach, salad and raddishes can now be sown direct into the garden as long as soil is warm enough.
Under fleece you can sow beetroot, sprouts, carrots, kale, lettuce, spinach if you dont want to wait till the end of the month.
FAVOURITE MARCH PLANTS
One of the best and beautiful sights now is a garden full of daffodils. Where would spring be without these little bright yellow trumpets nodding at us. Narcissus Pseudonarcissus.
Muscari Latifolium, Common Name – Grape Hyacinth. These delightful spikes of deep violet/blue when planted on mass look great. They grow to 20cm tall and prefer sun/slight shade.
Hyacinthus Orientalis , these look great in spring pots and the perfume is intoxicating.