The first month of spring has arrived at last, and the garden slowly starts to come to life after a long and very wet winter. As the weather improves and the soil warms, nature is stirred into action and the start of spring is here.
March weather can be very mixed with blue skies and mild sunshine one day, followed the next day by a hard frost, so always listen to your local forecast. During the brighter spells this month you can mulch, prune and take cuttings. Gardening is good exercise, a great stress buster to work off those winter blues, and can certainly clear out the cobwebs, but remember strenuous jobs such as digging should be done in short spells, to prevent harming your back start with 30 minutes before switching to another job with less bending.
Your spring bulbs will have been planted in autumn. For a mass of colour, bulbs need to be planted in groups of nine or eleven throughout your borders and flower beds.
Cheerful daffodils and early tulips are an uplifting sight at this time of year. A dwarf variety of Narcissus grows to about 15cm (6 inches) and is ideal for a rock garden, patio containers and window boxes and has the advantage it can withstand windy conditions. Deadhead daffodils as the flower fade, pinch off the head and leave the stem intact. If the old flowers are left on, the plant’s energy will be used for seed production. At this time, it is important to build up the bulb’s reserves so that a new flower bud forms inside it for flowering next spring. Leave bulbs in the ground for six weeks to die down naturally before either digging out, or mowing if the bulbs are under grass.
This month is the time to prune your roses according to type, cutting to an outward facing bud. Complete by feeding and mulching.
HYBRID TEA ROSES – Cut back the main stem to 20-30cm (8-12 inches) above ground level.
FLORIBUNDA ROSES – Should be cut back less than the hybrid tea rose. Reduce to about a third of the length, and retain strong side shoots to around 15cm (6 inches)
SHRUB ROSES – Cut away weak and damaged stems. Remove several centre branches at base level to open up the bush. Shorten other shoots by about one third.
CLIMBING AND RAMBLER ROSES – Prune in late summer/autumn (after flowering) if pruned in spring these will not flower until the following year. Cut back side branches and tie in strong new shoots across and not in an upward direction.
MINIATURE/PATIO ROSES – Generally cut out any dead or twiggy growth periodically.
The lawn is an important part of your outdoor space. It gives a sense or tranquil elegance and
maturity to your garden, it is a wonderful compliment to the shrubs and flower beds, and a useful entertaining and recreational area for all the family.
By adopting a programme of routine maintenance, your lawn will remain looking good throughout the year. In March the grass will start to steadily grow, and as the temperature rises and the rainfall eases it is surprising how the lawn will recover. In drier conditions lightly rake over the grass to remove the debris of winter. Regular mowing will keep your grass in good condition. Next month’s issue will feature repairing damaged patches of lawn, as well as laying a new lawn from seed and turfing. Due to the exceptional wet weather over recent weeks, you may need to delay the start of your lawn care routine until April, when our new Garden section returns with more information and advice to help make the most of your garden throughout the summer months.