Hello, I’m back from a wonderful couple of weeks in India.
It’s good to be back, there’s s pretty froth of blossom in hedgerows & a noticable difference in the growth of the garden. Fresh green shoots on shrubs, new growth on the roses & the hellebores are all beautifully in full flower. They’ve been flowering for 5 weeks & I reckon there’s still a couple of weeks of flowering.
I’m looking forward to getting on with seed sowing & making use of the new greenhouse, although its’ emptiness is a bit daunting, can I really grow enough to fill it in the next few weeks?! I know deep down that the answer is yes, because the tomato seeds I sowed after we got back were up in 4 days, but nevertheless there’s lots to do.
What remains of March will be a busy time. Well prepared ground makes a difference to plants for the rest of the year. I’m getting the soil ready for planting by spreading mulch on bare soil to improve its’ structure.
My home-made compost isn’t ready, so I’m buying some in. Any kind of organic matter/soil improver is ideal, it gets plants off to a good start & helps soil to both drain excess moisture and hold onto rain giving plants time to soak up moisture into their roots.
I sprinkle organic, pelleted chicken manure, over the surface of the soil, & lightly fork it in. This is mainly to stop our dog eating it, which I’m sure can’t be good for her.
It’s the perfect time to lift & divide perennial plants. These are plants that usually die back completely & grow again each year, & includes plants like Achillea, Hemerocallis, Aster, & Echinacea. They need dividing when the centre of the plant stops growing & all the new growth is around the edge.
Dig up the plant, & divide it with 2 garden forks back-to-back for leverage. Replant the strongest growing parts of the plan, making sure each section has roots & a shoot. Send the dead parts to the compost bin.
Hardy annuals can be sown in most areas now, the soil is warm enough when weed seedlings appear, that’s certainly happening in my garden.
The colourful stems of Cornus (Dogwoods) can be pruned now, to encourage new stems with their bright colour, to grow. I prune a third to half of the stems to a couple of inches above ground level.
Prune Clematis viticella leaving 6in/150cm of growth above ground. I love these types, not only because of their pretty flowers, but because the pruning is so straightforward.
Hellebores are my favourite flowers in the garden at the moment, I’m a fickle gardener, so this will change in a couple of weeks when something else in the garden starts to look gorgeous. I’m cutting the leaves off that are affected by the fungus Hellebore Leaf Spot. It’s a fungus that gives the leaves those dark splodges & is a source of infection, so the leaves can’t go in the compost bin.
Thinking ahead, I’ve ordered summer bulbs of Madonna Lilies, they’re tall & elegant & have the most beautifully scent. Have you bought any this year, I’d love to know your favourites.
Well I think that’s enough to be getting on with for now, find out how to grow annuals from seeds here.
Have a happy weekend.
all photos: Jill Anderson