My Garden by Philippa Thomas

Our March Of Many Weathers ……. Our longer evenings, that first genuine heat from the sun through our glass. The frenzy of birdsong and just to see the way our various leaves are visibly unfurling, all signals to us, that it is time to simply – “Get Going”.  Nothing makes me happier than waking up, going out to our little garden and then, to witness tiny lime green shoots bursting through the soil.  It’s like as if we can almost breathe Life into our borders.  Spring sees most of us, almost with impatient enthusiasm and isn’t there something about gardening in the cold and wet that gives us a glow of satisfaction.  We can then return to our kitchen table with slightly numb fingers and windswept hair, for a well earned herbal tea and chunk of cheese cake or – whatever.

“We love March for sunshine yellow. I think it is nearly the end of winter, not quite but nearly.  If you look carefully, buds are fattening and the colour is slowly returning to our gardens; the birds are getting a bit noisier and the rabbits are eyeing each other up.  The first flowers are almost always yellow but before we meet again in April the tulips will be beginning and we will all be skipping around like Julie Andrews”.                             Words by: James Alexander-Sinclair

Despite a lot of wet and chilly weather in our early weeks of the New Year, the mild start to winter has plants in good condition so they are ready to take advantage of any good spell. Buds are beginning to swell on our earliest trees and our daffodils are performing their annual miracle unless they are ‘blind’.  If some of your clumps of daffodils are blind, mark them to lift and divide, once their foliage dies back, then plant with some organic manure, at three times the bulbs depth, to encourage blooms for next year.  This is the time of year when the greenhouse really pays its way, so try to maximise the benefits of an early start to growth that it offers by sowing a range of vegetables, flower seeds and starting off tender tubers and bulbs.

Presently, we see many of our trees and shrubs flower on bare branches which makes them even more appealing. Camellias have enough flower power to change the appearance of a whole garden with a single large plant/shrub in flower.  Camellias for garden use in this climate are the Williams camellias, mostly bred in Cornwall.  I’m so excited, I bought two vines in a supermarket in France, last September.  I potted them up in large pots and intend shortly finding the perfect spot in the garden to plant them.  Grapevines can be grown for decorative effects as well as for fruit.  They have the most amazing relatives known as the vine family, ‘Vitaceae’ – they can be vigorous growers, the parthenocissus species attach themselves by way of tendrils with adhesive pads which secrete minute amounts of calcium carbonate which allows the vine to stick directly to wall surfaces without causing any penetration and harm.  Obviously, this process gives them high advantage over other climbers.

Our Shamrock

“Sometimes, nature has a way of revealing deep symbolism on a simplified level”.It is said that the true Shamrock plant, can only be grown in Ireland or even in Irish soil, in fact, the truth is This Three Leaf Clover grows all over the world. It’s just called by another name. Charles Nelson, one of Irelands leading botanists said, “Shamrock exists only on St. Patrick’s Day.  Every other day of the year it’s known simply as young clover”.  Today, the shamrock is an instantly recognisable emblem of Ireland.  For good luck, it’s sometimes included in the bouquet of an Irish bride.  It’s the symbol of a quality B & B, it’s part of the Aer Lingus logo and many companies and sports teams etc.  Shamrock plants grow from tiny bulbs that can be planted in autumn or early spring.  There are apparently over 500 different species that are commonly known as sorrels or shamrocks.  The species, Silver Shamrock is said to be very well behaved and makes a great addition to the garden as ground cover or as a rock garden plant.

Might Do, Maybe Do, March Jobs

  1. It is really difficult to deal with seeded weeds, moss and algae, growing in cracks, the joints of paving and cobblelock and the problem gets worse now as growth picks up. There are very specially designed path weed controls but must be checked out as some when sprayed, ultimately cause further dislodgement of the sediment, the grouting in between the blocks/cobblelock (it’s similar in a way, to the way our gums hold our teeth  in our mouth).
  2. There is something enchanting about a woodland garden in spring with bulbs in flower. Use existing trees and plant shade loving bulbs like winter aconites, snowdrops, wood anemones, erythoniums, primroses, ferns, lily of the valley, bluebells.  A mulch of bark chips can prevent weed seedlings germinating.
  3. Prune roses to encourage strong new growth.
  4. Deadhead hydrangeas before their new growth appears.
  5. Check whether containers need watering. Even at this time of the year they can dry out.  Pots that are sheltered by eaves or balconies can miss out on rainfall.  Aim to keep pots moist not wet and try never to let them dry out.
  6. Maybe, the best thing to do if you have boggy soil in a particular area is to celebrate it and grow plants that love it.
  7. Maybe, bring bags of good compost into the greenhouse to warm up for a week or so before you start sowing.
  8. Water butts are a great investment. Position under a down pipe to make the most of rainfall.
  9. When planting, prepare the soil over a wider area in order to encourage the plant roots to spread out.
  10. Cut out the top rosette of leaves of mahonia shrubs after they have flowered to encourage branching

Remember, March winds are notorious for their ferocity so check exposed plants are well supported. Likewise, frosts can still be a hazard, so keep vulnerable plants protected at night if frost is forecast.