Spring should really start kicking in this month, that’s if it ever stops raining! The days are getting longer and the soil warmer. This is stirring nature into action, the birds are nesting, daffodils and early tulips are showing their heads and everything begins to feel a little easier.

Spend some time checking your newly planted shrubs, apply a top dressing of organic matter to them to keep them fed and moist, compost from your compost bin or well-rotted manure is perfect. March is your last chance to plant bare root shrubs and trees.

This is also a great time to steal a march (excuse the pun!) on those weeds in the garden before they take over and set seed. Remember the quote “Leave to seed, seven years weed” It’s true I know from bitter experience.

Hopefully your borders are still a mess of dead herbaceous perennial stems, it is better to leave your borders uncut over winter as the dry, empty stems are a great habitat for overwintering, beneficial insects. Now is the time to cut back these dead stems, if you leave it later you may cause damage by stepping on the newly emerging leaves.

(For those of you who don’t know Herbaceous means that the plant has non-woody stems that reach their full height and produce flowers within one year, then die back over the winter and reappear the following spring ready for a repeat performance. The term perennial essentially means that the plant will live for more than two years.)

When cutting, there is a new school of thought, trim it into matchsticks with shears and leave the matchsticks on the ground as a mulch. I’m yet to be convinced, but apparently RHS Wisley does it so if it’s good enough for them…

Figure 1: Bulbs ’ in the green’

If everyone’s bulbs are making you feel left out.There are still some bulbs available ‘in the green’ but order now as they are selling out fast.

Figure 1: Bulbs ’ in the green’

Use this relatively quiet time to order summer/autumn bulbs and tubers like peonies, dahlias, lilies and nerines. A good nursery will only send them out when the time is right, so don’t worry about storing them. If they do come early it is better not to plant dahlia tubers out until the risk of frost has passed. Plant them in pots, water them and keep them in the light in your shed or garage if you don’t have a greenhouse.

Your border may look a bit brown and bare, if so, pop out and get some trays of jolly primroses and hyacinths to fill the gaps, they love the shade, so once your herbaceous plants grow, they will happily sit dormant beneath the leaves ready to give you a show next year.

Here are some more jobs for the garden.

  • Dead head early flowering bulbs
  • Lift and divide summer flowering perennials
  • Plant new borders
  • Repot your plants in pots
  • Cut back ornamental grasses
  • Prune roses
  • Prune late-summer flowering shrubs, such as Buddleja, hypericum and spiraea.
  • Prune late-flowering clematis to strong buds just above the base
  • Lightly prune clematis that flowers before midsummer by taking out lengthy spurs, tangled stems and dead flower heads
  • Early-flowering clematis, like Montana, needs little or no pruning. Prune after flowering


Plants that look good in March include:

  • Hazel
  • Forsythia
  • Camelia
  • Magnolia
  • Flowering Quince
  • Berberis
  • Primula
  • Daffodil
  • Narcissus
  • Pulmonaria
  • Scilla
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Hyacinth
  • Anemone
  • Hellebore
  • Daphne odorata

Figure 2: A posy of March flowers

Figure 2: A posy of March flowers

As always, if you’d like more information on this contact me via my website www.capabilitycharlotte.com or ask me a question on Facebook Twitter or Instagram just type in Capability Charlotte and you’ll find me.‘Capability’ Charlotte Howard Mhort (RHS)


This blog was written by Charlotte Howard

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