March jobs in the Garden

We had one or two exceptionally warm days in February, but don’t get caught out, there are certainly more frosts and cold weather in store.

  1. Top dress your containers. Simply remove the top 5cm (2”) of compost in the container and replace it with fresh compost, such as soil based John Innes No 3, or ericaceous compost for acid loving plants.  Check the drainage holes are clear and working, as roots soon die if they sit in water.
  1. Lawns can be mown if they look in need of it, but just a high cut on a dry day, to nip off the ends.
  1. If your narcissus and daffodils didn’t flower well last year, give them an early spring feed of Growmore and water in if the soil is dry. Always dead-head after flowering and never fold and tie the old leaves.
  1. Hoe the weeds, where there’s space to do so without damaging awakening plants – you’ll get a head start on them and a sharp hoe makes the world of difference! You can also hoe gravel drives; do it gently and carefully so as not to goudge the surface and if done regularly, it greatly reduces the need for weed killers.
  1. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials.
  1. Prune roses. People get nervous about this but as with wisteria, if you don’t get it quite right, you may lose some flowers but it’s unlikely you’ll kill the plant.

General rules for all types are: remove the four D’s = dead, diseased, damaged or dying branches.  Prune to an outward facing bud, slope the cut away from it and use sharp secateurs

Ramblers and climbers: often it’s just pruning a mature plant to fit the available space, if congested, remove one in three old rambler shoots at the base.  Cut back flowered side shoots by about two thirds and tie in new shoots to prevent wind damage.

English and repeat flowering shrubs roses: cut back overall by about a third, keep the centre open for good air circulation.

Old shrub roses such as gallicas and moss roses: these require little pruning and need space to develop their natural habit.

For greater detail, David Austin Roses’ site has plenty of information.

  1. Buddleia.  Hard prune them back to a basic framework, even though they will already have starting producing new leaves.
  1. Clematis.  The late flowering Group 3 clematis should be hard pruned, these too will be producing many new buds by now, but do the deed and the plant will benefit from it.
  1. Keep feeding your garden birds, morning is best, as they lose weight overnight trying to keep warm and fish will be getting hungry too.

It’s the first day of March and my hellebores are in full flower with a  few brave Anemone blandas for company; they look so beautiful and delicate, yet they’ve been toughing it out in icy winds and sleet!

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