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Right this time March really is “In like a lion” though the “and out like a lamb” will have to wait a bit before we can tell. Force 6 to 8 here in Jersey and wet too so any plans I had to attack the garden have been put on hold.
Mind you things are now starting to change quite quickly with the Magnolia stellata showing three flowers in full bloom with lots more to come. In addition the clematis montana have broken dormancy with some nice new shoots along with our pleones, which have been outside all winter. Contrary to what I have been told these seem to be able to tolerate a little cold provided they do not get too wet.
Ok all you children out there what are you going to get mum for Mothering Sunday, which is the 18th March this year so unlike most years by the time you are reading this it’s probably NOT too late to do anything about it and your name will be praised, well it will be depending what you do for Mum. (By the way the definition of children in this context is anyone with a Mum, even if you are 60+). My favourite bouquets to send my mum this year are Mum’s Posy and Vintage Vibrance so I’d better make my mind up quickly! Fortunately to ease your purse strings and to spread your social conscious Easter is not until April this year though the clocks do go forward on Sunday the 25th March. See who needs a social diary when you read Noddy’s Plot. Why not buy your loved ones some plants or bulbs this year rather than the usual calorific chocolate eggs and they can enjoy your gift throughout the summer. I’m rather fancying giving my family some summer flowering bulbs like freesias and peonies.
Spring is an ideal time to plant plants such as geraniums, begonias and asters. Also remove weeds and prepare the soil for planting summer bulbs such as lilies, gladioli and begonias. Dahlia tubers should be potted up to produce new shoots for cuttings. If you are going to be digging over borders etc, work in some organic matter or compost. This will improve water retention in light soils and improve drainage in heavy soils.
When daffodils stop flowering, remove the dead flower heads, but leave the leaves and stems as these are essential for the bulb to grow (they provide the food through photosynthesis seeing as you ask). Do the same to any winter bedding to encourage continued flowering.
Top dress spring-flowering alpines with grit or gravel to show off the plants and help prevent rotting around the neck.
Remember if you are short of space or your greenhouse looks like Del’s lock up, plug plants are an ideal solution as someone has already done the tricky bit of germinating the seeds or rooting the cuttings (as well as buying the trays, compost, fertiliser and any pest or disease control to minimise the risk of damping off etc). However because of the small volume of compost you do need to keep an eye on their growth to prevent them drying out, running out of fertiliser or becoming root bound so unfortunately you will have to pot them on or plant them out.
Unfortunately now that the weather is warming up, your lawn will be starting to grow which means that you will need to mow it, therefore you should ensure that all your equipment is serviced and raring to go. The first cut should be a shallow, light one and just top the grass to toughen it up for later. Towards the end of the month, think about applying a nitrogen dressing, to fatten it up after its winter diet.
Frogs, toads and hedgehogs are now starting to emerge from hibernation as the weather gets milder. Insects start to emerge as temperatures increase and a mild spring can see pest problems developing earlier than usual, so keep an eye out for problems.