Spring Garden Article
March is when everything really gets going in the garden. Bulbs are springing up, leaves are unfurling, buds are opening, camellias, winter honeysuckle, daphnes and more are in bloom, the birds are singing their hearts out and you might even see a fat bumble bee on a warm day.
Now is the time to prepare beds for planting, but don't rush to get your seeds sown. There's always the chance of a late frost. Use cloches or cold frames to warm the ground up a bit, and protect seedlings. It's worth having some horticultural fleece handy in case frost is forecast.
Jobs to do in March include:
• Putting fresh compost in containers
• Protecting new shoots from slugs and snails
• Planting onions and shallots
• Mowing the lawn on dry days
• Planting summer flowering bulbs
• Lifting and dividing clumps of perennials
It's very easy to get overwhelmed in your local garden centre and buy far too much, as the displays of bedding plants and perennials tempt you with luscious colours and scent.
Try to restrict yourself to a small selection and plant in groups (Alan Titchmarsh recommends groups of three or five) with tall plants at the back of the border and delicate small plants at the front. Look for some structure for all-year-round interest, with evergreen shrubs such as box, pittosporum or daphnes, and use bulbs to fill the gaps between young plants.
Try to contrast leaf shapes and use ground cover plants such as geraniums to stop weeds from seeding themselves.
It's great to visit established gardens for inspiration and the National Garden Scheme is an excellent way to do this. A small entrance fee goes to charity, there are often teas and plant sales available, and the owners are usually passionate about gardening and happy to give advice.
See www.ngs.org.uk to find a garden near you or pick up a yellow booklet.