25th February 2020
The garden is a little soggy to say the least but there is hope as the remaining snow drops are still blooming and glorious yellow bobbing heads of daffodils are battling the storms. What makes this time of year truly beautiful I think, are the stunning blossoms of Magnolias. In the Garden everything has started to grow. The soil has warmed, and the fluorescent spring green tips are emerging as plant leaves explode. This is the month where you can sow everywhere: indoors, outdoors, in pots and on balconies …. the growing year in the Garden has officially opened.
From a Design point of view your garden needs a wow factor so add a Magnolia tree. They are majestic, beautiful and just wonderful for this time of year. The only down side is the flowers do not last long. So if hit by terrible frost or a storm means game over on the blossom front, but still the leaf texture is beautiful. So well worth the investment. Magnolia Soulangeana is hard to beat.
The delicate Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ with pink party streamer effect petals is great and is long flowering. The magnificent goblet sized petals of the Magnolia x soulangeana(main picture) which has a range of colours from deep rose, shell pink to white is a winner also. But my favourite is Magnolia ‘Susan’, it has deep reddish purple scented flowers. Is a great small upright tree to 4m. My other favourite Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ which also has fragrant rosy pink blossoms, stands taller at 8-10meters, so depends on how big your garden is!
Magnolia Leonard Messel/ Magnolia Susan/ Magnolia Heaven Scent
As a great Easter Treat decorate your home this spring. From pots of daffodils, mascuri, to potted hyacinths (a great Easter treat as they smell delicious) come spend a morning putting together something festive.
JOBS TO DO
Weeds have started to grow, so start weeding boarders then apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and this also helps keeps weeds at bay.
Divide clumps of snowdrops after flowering.
Now chop back any ornamental grasses to 20-30cm above ground if not already. This is the time to divide grasses either with a bread knife or sharp spade.
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. This encourages vigorous young colourful shoots. These can be saved to create ‘Plant Supports’ in the boarder or used to make a unique textured basket or tray. Check out our wonderful Plant Support courses running this spring. Or a great sculpture for the garden. Our Willow Hare Days are fun, invigorating and mindful, something for everyone plus a great sculpture to take home
Or come make a beautiful Willow Fruit/Bread Basket with the help of Vivian Turner this month. An exciting 1 day course where you will take home an amazing basket ready to put on your table or a gorgeous Willow Trug for collecting your produce this summer.
Or Free Plants – many of the shrub and climbers being pruned can be turned into your own home grown plants. So have a go. Take a 10-20cm trimming from – Budleja, Clematis ‘Bill Mackenzie’, Dogwoods, Elder, Lavender, Shrub honeysuckle, Sage, willow Rosemary, winter Jasmine. Push into the ground or a pot, and occasionally 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. Plus you need a great Plant Support!
This is also are really good time to apply ‘Top Buxus’ a plant feed to buxus hedging as the risk of blight is high. I think this works well also in strengthening the plants, so watch out for any signs of blight and Buxus Catipillar which is rife and heading our way – 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 as a surprise frost or snow fall may still happen!
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
Peas, broad beans, leeks, cabbages, cauliflowers spinach, salad and radishes 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 don’t 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.