March – a month of mad hares and (at times) mighty winds. Quite often the March wind can swing round from the south west and come screaming from the north east, bringing an arctic chill with it. This kind of weather will strip the moisture from soil, so now’s the time to mulch it, to retain moisture and enrich the earth ready for the growing season.
Before the real growth of spring gets going in April and May, you can also move evergreen shrubs, as they can replace lost water. Feed heathers with fish, blood and poultry manure, too.
While cold winter weather may have hampered the best efforts of our slimy garden enemies, they will soon be on the move, so put grit around delphiniums and hostas to discourage slugs and snails as new growth appears.
Take a look around with fresh eyes and see what needs tidying up and renovating, too.
Time for a bit of a snip and pluck…
Prune shrub roses, taking out dead, diseased or damaged stems. With hybrid and floribunda roses cut out weak stems and trim lasts years growth down to 8cm. Cut back miniature roses only if they have become leggy and need reshaping. Round about now, you can also renovate climbers, taking out old stems with no new buds (winter jasmine, rambling roses, honeysuckle).
If you want to increase your snowdrops then lift and divide them while they are still in the green.
After the winter months of tidying, cleaning, cutting back and waiting, March is also the time when you can start to plant new climbers and perennials and also summer flowering bulbs like gladioli, eucomis and anemones. Sweet pea seeds can also be soaked overnight and planted out 1 ft apart and 1 cm deep. If you are sewing hardy annuals in drifts, then rake them over and water; don’t put mulch on top of them as this will hamper germination.
Most of all, enjoy this month – it’s a wonderful mix of the bitingly fresh and crisp, the promise of the new and, best of all, the gateway to spring and summer.