March Gardener 2015

Lift off to Spring

RHS WISLEY TROPICAL GLASSHOUSE      Waterfall

March can be one of the most exciting of the months, allowing us to at last get back into the garden and be so very busy.

Get organised

By now we should be making a list of the many things we want to do and in what order!   Maintenance of tools and equipment, shed and greenhouse clearance. Stock up on plant feeds, especially liquid ericaceous required NOW for Heathers, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, all of which should be budding and will soon be in flower.

Planning your garden

Just a bit of time spent having a good look around with that notebook may give you much needed input and ideas for the season ahead – a new flower or raised bed, additional containers, hanging baskets or just boldly removing any old tired plants.  Choose some fresh exciting shrubs, perennials or annuals (plant hardy annuals now).

March jobs needing your attention

A tidy up after winter is the obvious place to start.  A fresh mulch to cover up the dismal winter soils and leaves is highly recommended.  A mixture of topsoil and compost is the ideal for a crumbly loam.   Adding organic fertilisers, fish blood and bone, or pelleted chicken manure is important now as heavy winter and spring rains can leach out nutrients very easily.  Soil is used up every year and needs to be replenished gradually.

Hardy plants and annuals can safely be planted out but might need some storm protection.  Bare root plants e.g. hedges and roses can be planted now.

Moving shrubs

If you need to move a shrub, especially an evergreen, this should ideally be done now as water begins to be taken up as the weather warms up.  Shrubs can easily and quickly dry out.

Pruning

Shrubs will need some pruning, but take care cutting into old wood, it may not be necessary and it can cut off the vascular system and kill the plant!  Usually cutting lateral stems to two or three buds will suffice.  Vertical stems will depend mainly on how much height is required.  Climbers if flowering before July can be lightly and carefully pruned to preferred size but late flowering climbers rely on new growth which being straggly now can be cut hard back.

Prune rose bushes 2/3 inches below last year’s growth.  Shrub roses can just be trimmed of last year’s hips, but large shrub roses can get congested so to allow air circulation cut back two or three older stems to the base and thin out surplus central stems.