It’s funny, isn’t it – we were talking about drought tolerant plants last year and this year I think we all need bog gardens! You can never predict the weather – all you can do is go with the flow and be prepared.
March is a really busy time in the garden with lots of plants needing to be cut back or split if they have got too large; and tidying away all the dead and decaying material from last year. This will help prevent diseases getting a foothold in the garden.
Here are just a few of the jobs you can be getting on with.
Late flowering clematis (Group 3) need to be pruned now. These are clematis texensis and viticella types and are the easiest of all the clematis to look after. You just cut them down to about 30cm (1ft) from the soil to just above a nice pair of fat leaf buds and tie in the new growth as it appears. Keep the roots shaded to help prevent clematis wilt and feed regularly during the summer– tomato feed is good for clematis.
Roses will need to be pruned now – aim to leave an open centre and prune to an outward facing bud. As a general rule, and this applies to most things, remove all dead, diseased and damaged stems, and anything that is crossing over causing the branches to rub together causing a wound. You should also start to spray the roses for blackspot as soon as leaves emerge and feed them regularly now until late summer.
Lavenders which were pruned in August should be pruned again to keep them looking compact and bushy and prevent them becoming leggy and woody.
Penstemons, Brunnera and Phygelius can be pruned hard back (unless a hard frost is predicted), and you can rake out the dead leaves from evergreen grasses.
Start pruning early flowering shrubs such as Chaenomeles (flowering quince) and Forsythia just after they have finished flowering. This applies to all flowering shrubs that flower before June.
The time is just about coming to an end to plant bare root trees and shrubs, so if you haven’t already done so – you will need to get a move on.
The garden centres are starting to fill up with all sorts of pretty and colourful perennials and shrubs – the choice is huge. Do check the soil requirements for the plant – we are on lime (chalky) soil, – acid loving plants will not survive for long unless planted in a pot in ericaceous compost. Also check how big the plant will get – a Choisya ternata may look quite small and compact in the pot in the nursery, but will soon grow to 2m high and 2m spread – so ensure you have the space for it.
Finally it is a good time to dust off the garden furniture – give it a spring clean and treat wooden furniture ready for the sunny days of summer (we hope) and your welcome glass of Pimms.