March 2022 Newsletter

In March in the garden you’ll see primroses flowering, apple blossom beginning to open, and the fresh green shoots of herbaceous perennials just starting to burst through the soil. Then the daffodils and crocus appear just as you’ve forgotten where you planted them last Autumn, and hellebores are coming into full flower.

But there are two sides to this story. On the one hand, the days are getting longer, the soil is warming up and after a spell of sunshine, you’ll notice something new happening in your garden every day. On the other hand, March can be extremely wet and windy with sharp frosts and chilly winds giving a wintery feel and delaying the onset of Spring.

February was wet, wild and very windy with a lot of damage done to fencing, fallen trees etc so now is a good time for repairs, checking plant supports and trees and putting in replacements where needed.

Hedging your bets

If your fencing has indeed been damaged, consider growing hedges as a boundary or in front of fencing if space allows as hedges reduce wind speed and also noise, which is always a plus. Mixed hedging such as beech, hornbeam, hawthorns, climbing or rambling roses and honeysuckle produce flowers, fruit and scent plus they are great for wildlife and improve air quality too.

Time to Spring clean

If time and conditions allow, March is a good month for preparing seed beds, sowing seeds, cutting back winter flowering shrubs and pruning the coloured stems of cornus, buddleia and ornamental elders, tidying the garden and cleaning up overwintering herbaceous perennials. A clean garden helps prevent slugs and snails, too.

Plant Highlights

Forsythia is reliable and easy to grow with a mass of bright yellow flowers and works well for the back of borders or in a mixed hedge. 

Camellias with their evergreen, shiny green leaves and flowers in all shades of pink, red, white and cream, enjoy being in a sheltered position in light shade, and do best planted in well-drained, lime-free soil with plenty of organic matter added to it. Avoid an east-facing position for camellias, as early morning frost can cause the flowers to turn papery-brown. They make great plants for a sturdy tub or container filled with ericaceous compost (i.e. lime-free compost).

Chaenomeles, the flowering quince, can be a slightly messy plant left to its own devices but is easy to train against a wall or fence to keep it tidy. There are many different varieties, with large colourful apple blossom-like flowers in shades of pink, red, peach and white, followed by green spotted fruits that ripen to a golden yellow in October and November.

Magnolias appear in many varieties from magnolia stellata, the star magnolia, with white single flowers, to magnolia x Soulangeana with large, waxy tulip shaped flowers in light to dark pink shades. 

Both are stunning, and magnolia plants have been around on earth for millions of years. They pre-date the era of  pollinating bees and butterflies and their flowers are in fact pollinated by beetles! Magnolias make for a superb specimen plant, with their beautiful and striking flowers appearing on bare stems before the foliage emerges. 

Springtime classics 

Classic spring bedding includes wallflowers, which are scented and come in a huge range of colours and the cheery polyanthus and primroses. Daffodils and Crocus, although planted in the ground in the autumn, are sold pot-grown at this time of year, ready for adding instant colour to containers, beds and borders. 

It's all about the colour!

March and April are the months to plant summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, gladioli, lilies and eucomis. Together with herbaceous perennials (plants that die back and come back up each year) the summer bulbs, depending on variety, produce flowers all summer long, great for creating colourful themes in your garden.

Dahlias, originating from Mexico, produce diverse and colourful flowers in all shapes and sizes, from July through to October, and varieties such as ‘Sun and Ice’ provide striking 2-tone flowers. The single-flowered types, such as ‘Bishop of York’ and ‘Bishop of Canterbury’ are best for attracting bees and butterflies. 

If you need ideas and inspiration, Taylor’s bulb collection packs include dahlias, liatris, freesias, gladioli and lilium in a wide range of colour themes. For an exotic, tropical look, try Cannas and Eucomis, commonly called the Pineapple lily, and not forgetting autumn flowering Nerines and Amarines (a hybrid of an amaryllis and a nerine).

You can pot up the plug plants in a bright, frost-free spot and when grown on they can be planted out in early May, providing for colourful baskets and containers all summer.

Start your begonia tubers into growth by laying them concave side up in a seed tray on a warm windowsill, and once the buds are visible, pot up individually into pots approximately 1” /2.5cm deep, and plant out in May. You could also sow sweet pea seeds for beautiful summer colour and fragrance.

Want to grow your own fruit and vegetables? 

Plant onions, shallots and garlic cloves, and if the soil is still too wet, start them off individually in modular trays to be planted out later when they are actively growing and conditions improve. Once your soil is prepared and raked into a nice, fine tilth, sow lettuces, rocket, radishes, spring onions, leeks, broad beans, parsnips, spinach and peas. 

At the end of March, plant out your early potatoes, and sow tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines in a heated propagator. For delicious fruiting crops, plant rhubarb and other pot-grown fruit such as blackcurrants, gooseberries and blueberries  (good to grow in containers with some ericaceous compost) and plant out pot-grown strawberries. With the recent weather, watch out for slugs and snails.

Have some horticultural fleece ready for any frosty nights, to cover any vulnerable plants. 

And finally…. 

Remember Mothers’ Day on Sunday 27th March. 

  

We have a vast array of foliage and flowering houseplants grown specially for the big day, although many say that nothing beats the beauty and long-flowering period of a delicate and fascinating orchid. So no need to worry what to give, as both indoors and out, we have so many gifts to choose for the garden-loving Mum!

The Van Hage plant Team is always here to help you make the perfect choice, and we are looking forward to seeing you soon as the weather improves and March warms up!