With the days lengthening and lightening, now is certainly a good time to make the most of the extra hours by spending them in the garden, as Head Gardener of Horatio’s Garden London & South East, Ashley Edwards, shares in this month’s tips!
March is officially the beginning of Spring.
The garden bursts forth with unbridled energy and flowers erupt from the ground, branches and stems.
If you blink, you’ll miss it!
This season spring flowering bulbs come into their own. As they fade, deadhead to prevent them putting their energy into seeds and concentrate instead on storing it in their bulbs for next year’s display. If bulb leaves are looking untidy in your borders, you can braid them together as an attractive solution.
If you have top heavy herbaceous plants such as peonies, now is the time to create some support for them. Build hooping out of dogwood stems or willow and create a frame that the stems can grow through. This can be an attractive garden feature in its own right.
Now is also the perfect time to split large perennials and produce free plants! Dig up the root ball and divide into two or three pieces, either using two garden forks inserted back-to-back in the crown of the plant, or a sharp knife for tuberous plants. For smaller perennials you should be able to dig up and tease apart by hand. There is nothing more satisfying than increasing your plant stock for free, and you can share the plant joy with neighbours or loved ones!
Sowing your hardy annuals now with give you a fantastic display of colour later in the year. Once temperatures warm up you can sow direct to ground. Watch out for slugs and snails that will happily devour any new seedlings. Eggshells and hair (human or otherwise) are a good natural defense against when scattered around young plants.
In the veg garden, March is a key month to sow. You can start your carrots, salad crops, peas, beans and a host of other veg outside once the soil has warmed. To speed up soil warming, you can place black permeable material on the soil surface. Onion, shallot and potato sets can also be planted out during March. Birds, especially crows, seem to love to pull out onions as they sprout. If they do simply plant them back in and hope they lose interest in this game!
Plant summer flowering bulbs such as dahlias, canna, lily and gladioli as temperatures warm. Keep your eye on weather conditions though as these bulbs will rot in cold wet soil. They like a free-draining conditions, so if you have a heavier soil, add sharp grit to the bottom of the planting hole.
Insects will be as busy as you in the garden and you’ll begin to see many pollinators buzzing around. Why not provide a ‘bug hotel’ made up of old wooden pallets stuffed with twigs, bamboo canes, pinecones and other natural materials.
Birds will begin to explore nesting sites during this time of year and tits will be seeking a home to lay eggs during early March. You can put up a bird box early in the month or make your own to encourage them to nesting your garden. The tit family love to eat aphids and will aid you in pest control.
If you have time after all that, take a moment to breathe in the sweet scent of spring and enjoy the warm sunshine on your face!
Whilst there’s plenty to be done, there’s always plenty of time to enjoy the dawn of a new natural chapter too.