March is the exciting month – the beginning of gardening year full activity - when we can hopefully get out into the garden and get to work after a long, dark and very wet and windy winter. The clocks go forward in the UK at the end of this month, which is a great daylight bonus. Let us not forget our wildlife. Can a nest box be put up as with increasing light levels birds are now and for some time desperately seeking a new home and those elusive hedgehogs may be stirring so perhaps a dish of cat food would be welcome – although in the past we have had a stream of grateful cats wandering through our garden, but have yet to see a hedgehog!
Planning your garden. Have a think about what you would like to see in your garden in the coming year. Do you need to replace any plants? Would you like to see some hanging baskets or even a completely new flowerbed? While the days can still be dull and miserable it is a good and enjoyable time to look ahead.
Make a list of jobs to be tackled – not too many at once or your enthusiasm will wane. Maintenance of tools and equipment should be top of the list. Is the lawnmower working? Do tools need to be sharpened? Stock up on plant feeds especially liquid ericaceous required now for Heathers, Camellias, Rhododendrons (Azaleas), all of which should be budding and will soon be in flower.
Tidy up the detritus and dead matter from winter. Some pruning can start now, but check first before you start to see what pruning regime plants require. Always be careful before cutting into old wood. I’ve seen some good woody shrubs killed off mistakenly as old wood (with a few exceptions) does not always re-grow.
Annual seeds can be planted from March onwards, directly into the soil if it is soft. Prepare the soil well and protect seedlings from the usual predators, slugs and birds. Also keep seedlings sheltered from severe storms!! I’m sure we are all pleased to see the back of Hurricane Frank! Check ‘To do’ lists in publications and on the RHS website. Early Spring brings back colour into our lives after the grey of winter. Bulbs – Narcissus, Iris, Crocus – too many to mention. Also flowering shrubs, Forsythia, Camellia, Ribes, Ornamental Quince and Prunus blossoms all bring a warm and happy smile to our faces. If you are itching to buy plants do shop around, especially look on line as there are some very competitive deals, but make it a worthwhile purchase taking into account the cost of postage and packing. I find a trip to a local garden centre is always a pleasure, especially when I can enjoy a good cup of coffee when dithering over what to buy. The choices are so seductive I have to limit myself to so many plants per garden centre!