I’m letting my Beagle puppy out this week around 6am and it’s so good to see how light it is. Longer days and more sun (hopefully) means that the ground is warming up and the daffs, crocus and snowdrops herald the first day of Spring (20th March). Here are a list of my favourite plants to consider for early Spring interest:

PLANTS OF THE MONTH

Trees:

Prunus cerasifera, Prunus “Snow Goose’

Shrubs:

Magnolia stellata,

Chaenomeles simonii

Forsythia x intermedia

Camellia x williamsii ‘Donation’

Viburnum x bodnantense

Corylopsis glabrescens

Daphne laureola subsp.Philippi

Evergreens:

Mahonia x media

Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’

Pieris ‘Wakehurst’

Climbers: Jasminum nudiflorum

Perennials:

Helleborus foetidus and Helleborus x hybridus

Anemone blanda ‘Violet star’,‘Anemone blanda Atrocaerulea’ and Anemone blanda ‘Robinsoniana’

Bulbs:

Dwarf irises:

Iris ‘George’

Chionodoxa luciliae

Puschkinia scilloides

SOFTSCAPE PROJECTS FOR MARCH:

General tasks:

  1. Mulching
  • Fork over the soil, weed and mulch.

Start at the back of the bed and work to the front.

  • Add compost, manure, mushroom or bark chippings up to 2 inches deep. This will definitely save you work for the rest of the season as the mulch will cover annual weeds, stopping them germinate, and reducing evaporation if we have a hot spell.

So save on water and let the worms do all the work!

  • Leave aside a bit of compost to top-dress your potted plants having scraped out the weeds and winter debris.
  1. Plant re-siting
  • Move those deciduous shrubs before mid-march
  1. Weed and clear
  • Weeds start now! Remove weeds and moss on paths and cracks between paving slabs.
  • Cut down any remaining perennial growth and grasses from winter.
  • Avoid damaging new shoots
  1. Lawn treatment
  • Cut grass – 2 stage
  • Redefine lawn edges
  • Repair damage – turf or overseed
  • Buy the 4 in 1 Evergreen or Westland feed and weed for end of month application
  1. Planting
  • Plant potted trees, shrubs, climbers
  • Plant roses now if you didn’t in the Autumn. Most garden centres have new-season stock but just make sure the base of the rose is firmly in the compost before you buy it!
  • Plant herbaceous perennials like Geranium, Astrantia and ornamental poppies.
  • Plant from seed Half-hardy annuals. Very straightforward to sow Cosmos and Nicotiana inside and plant them out end of April after the frosts. They are excellent for filling your borders with prolonged colour and flower from June to October. Both of these are excellent for pollinating insects.
  • Sow Hardy annuals – poppies. Remember they like to struggle so don’t lavish them with your best compost!
  • Summer flowering bulbs – Anemone coronaria
  1. Division:
  • Divide Hosta, Astrantia and Hemerocallis
  • I usually wait until I can see the tips of the Hosta peeping through last year’s grit (slug and snail deterrent).
  1. Prune and renovate:
  • Finish pruning hardy evergreen hedges like Laurel, Prunus
  • Firm up trees that were planted last year
  • Prune the winter flowering shrubs.
  • Lift and divide untidy perennials
  • Cut back all the vines – All the ivy’s, Virginia creeper etc..
  1. Protection:
  • Slugs and snails. As the soil warms so will the slugs start to munch
  • Aquatic: If you have a small pond, go out and buy water crowfoot Ranunculus aquatilis and marsh marigold Caltha palustris as you’l provide an ideal habitat for frogs, newts and toads.