Spring has Sprung in the March Garden
The first month of spring has arrived at last and gardens are really beginning to come alive after the long, wet winter we’ve had. But this can be a tricky month as far as the weather goes; it’s possible to get mild sunshine one day, only to be followed by a hard frost the next, so be sure to make the most of bright spells and start by taking it easy.
Winter pruning can be completed in March. Dogwood, shrubby willows, and ornamental Rubus, grown for their winter-coloured stems, should be cut down hard. Prune to about one or two buds of last year’s growth to leave a stubby framework. Late flowering shrubs, such as buddleias should be treated in the same way to give a better display in the autumn.
This is the best time of year to prune bush and shrub roses (not climbers or ramblers, which should have been done in the autumn). Remove all winter damage and don’t worry about pruning bush roses hard: it will help them produce really good growth and flowers in summer. By thinning overcrowded growth you’ll be letting in more light and air and avoiding problems with pests and diseases. Cuts must be clean so use a good pair of SHARP secateurs; you might also need loppers for thicker shoots. Cut out any shoots that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Always prune to the outward facing bud. The harder you prune the more vigorous the growth will be.
It’s essential to protect young, tender shoots of delphiniums, hostas, lupins and other vulnerable plants from slug damage at this time of year. These pests can do a lot of damage to new shoots before they’ve barely emerged from the soil and you might not be aware of this until the leaves begin to open up. The best organic method of protection is to put a layer of coarse grit around the base of the plant.