The Garden in March - Jobs and Tips
plants for March

Jobs / Tips

    March 17th St. Patrick's Day is the traditional day to plant sweet pea seeds. Outside in pots (long deep ones are best as sweet peas have long deep roots) in a sheltered spot, in a cold frame or cold greenhouse if you have one. My wife loves them, they are about 90% of the reason for having a garden as far as she's concerned. They are wonderful plants coming in a variety of pretty colours, delicate simple flowers, and with the most wonderful fragrance.

They do well in a large container with some canes pushed in and tied together at the top into a wigwam arrangement.

    Lift and divide summer flowering perennials. Get free plants to spread around the garden or your friends and neighbours in the process. They should be fairly easy to dig up with a fork as there won't be many fine roots yet. Pull them apart gently but firmly so that the plant divides at its weakest point/s, pull rather than cut.

    Cut back ornamental grasses. Give them a severe hair cut to about 3 or 4 inches above the ground. Only do this if the leaves are brown and dead - not evergreen, or they'll take all year to recover.

    Protect young shoots from slugs, scatter pellets / slug pubs particularly around clematis and herbaceous plants (they love Delphiniums). As soon as there are shoots to eat the slugs and snails will appear from nowhere. Slug control

    Still time to prune your pomes, but leave your drupes alone. A pome is a fruit with pips, apples and pears (also quince and medlars) whereas a drupe is a fruit with a stone, plums, cherries, peaches and apricots.

    Make plans. Consider plants and planting, use canes or a hose pipe across the garden to mark out planned beds, patios or other features.

    Feed and continue to feed the birds. Most wild animals that die over the winter do so just as spring is arriving, it's not the cold that gets them so much, as the lack of food.

    Order or buy seed and plan what you'll grow from seed this year.  flower seeds, vegetable seeds

    Last chance to plant trees and hedges from bare rooted stock, many nurseries will stop lifting field grown plants this month if they haven't done so already. Buy hedging plants

    There can be lasting problems of snowfall in its effect on trees and shrubs by the sheer weight of snow laying on branches. Snapped off branches can leave a messy wounds that can become infected with fungal diseases and potentially threaten the whole tree. Take a look to see if you have any similar damage. If you have then cut the broken branch stump back close to the tree as cleanly as possible to help keep disease out.

Hedges may be damaged by snow if it build up and "splits" them down the middle if they have a flat top and straight sides, if you are affected by this leave them for a while to start to grow again before you start to renovate them back to their former neat shape.

    This is the best time of the year to plant snowdrops. It's a relatively little known fact that snowdrops are best planted "in the green" when they have finished flowering but still have all of their leaves. They should be dug up and replanted as soon as possible and are much more successful when treated like this than if planted in the autumn as shriveled little bulbs that are far more likely to rot than grow the next spring.

    Get a water butt - do you have one - or more? A water butt is an ideal way of watering the garden with rainwater that the plants prefer, it helps you to work around hosepipe bans and also to reduce your water bill. I'll take time for the butts to fill, so if you get one at the height of summer, it'll probably not fill until the autumn or winter. Get one as soon as you can and get as big a one as you can.

    I must also remember to go and cut some branches of pussy willow catkins to put into a vase, they remind me doubly of spring, of spring now, and of the spring time when I too was in my spring time.

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