This is a special month to look forward to. As we all know it heralds the first day of Spring, March 21st. Don’t forget the clocks go forward Saturday 26th in the UK bringing longer daylight hours and lovely lighter evenings to wander around the garden so much needed after a long cold winter.
There are so many gardening objectives this month – let’s see if we can simplify them.
Planning ahead what do we want in terms of planting? From small ornamental trees, grasses and perennials or possibly some special containers for particular plants such as summer bulbs and annuals. Are you going to grow some vegetables? Annual climbers are becoming very popular. I plan to be growing in containers summer annuals such as the superb blue Convolvulus (Ipomoea)and orange yellow red choices of Thunbergia (Blackeyed Susie). More next month.
Garden maintenance this month will keep us all very busy. May I recommend checking all garden equipment, especially the lawn mower for trapped wood and dried grass that can cause serious overheating of the motor on day one! Tools can be sharpened easily with a small carborundum tool obtainable from garden centres – well worth while for the careful pruning and cutting back required this month. Don’t forget to check first that shrubs such as Forsythia, Camellia and Pieris have completed their late winter and early Spring flowering cycles!
Greenhouses must be cleaned out as they are luxury hotels for pests and disease incubation. Soapy washing up liquid is hated by most pests especially green and blackfly and spider mites. Ventilation on warmer days is always recommended almost a must!
Late Winter Colour
On a fine day take a walk around and just see how many Spring flowers you can spot. Early Spring Narcissus, very fragrant Hyacynths, Eranthis, Primulas and Bellis, Pulmonarias (attract pollinators), Hellebores are looking superb and long flowering Muscaris, Iris Crocuses and Chionodoxia. I just can’t wait.
Some large gardens are opening in March so plan a pleasant escape for the day. Longer daylight hours and stronger light intensity do make a huge difference to how plants grow but also I believe to how we feel. Brush off those cobwebs and venture out after the long and dreary winter, we all need a breath of fresh air in the northern hemisphere!!
Next month I will focus on more planting choices from a wider range of plants for the season including some smaller trees, deciduous, evergreen and dwarf conifer as well as some plants and bulbs especially suitable for containers. I will also give a few tips on how best to assess for yourself suitable garden planting conditions, particularly soil and plant positioning.
There is always a brief selection of colour pictures on the website www.Scienceforthegardener.com under Monthly Gardener menu so have a look back at some of this time last years monthly gardener. I am proud that this website and power point download is now listed on the RHS School Gardening Website as a Secondary Science resource. There is a wide range of down to earth science information to be had on both these websites and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture web site and here is a special view of the actual Royal Charter granted.
We need more youngsters to take an interest in the great outdoors, to enjoy and cherish our parks and open spaces – the world of horticulture –science is huge and fascinating – Have a look at the important statement to Science for the Gardener by the President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture on the Science page this month Dr Owen Doyle who will be writing for us on the role of science with horticulture and the importance of recruiting and training horticulturists in to the industry.
Enjoy your garden planning in the exciting month of March
Tony Arnold MCIHort