March – It’s Gardening Time
This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Village Breeze magazine.
Well, here we are again. Christmas is a distant memory and the gardening season is starting anew.
March is a great month – there is a lot to do in the garden, but the workload is not as manic as it will be in the months to come. It’s a month for tackling little jobs, like sowing seeds under glass or on an inside window sill, or tidying up the garden after the ravages of the winter.
If you’re really keen, you could mulch your vegetable patch and even start planting some first early potatoes. If you are thinking of adding new shrubs, trees or even a hedge to your garden, bare-root specimens can still be planted in March – and they are much more cost-effective than their pot grown alternatives.
It’s a busy time of year for me and the landscapers I work with. This winter I have been designing pretty much right through the ‘off-season’, and gardens have been built over the milder part of the winter ready to plant in the spring. Things are stepping up a gear again as we look ahead to the summer – but what kind of summer will we get this year?
Our climate really is changing – last year’s record summer wash-out was preceded by a very dry spring. Season to season, it’s becoming harder to guess what kind of conditions our garden plants will have to contend with. The good news is that most plants will survive, whatever weather comes our way, but we may have to choose differently when we select what to plant in our gardens.
Scientists predict our climate is going to be warmer and wetter. So if you have a damp, shady part of the garden, the likelihood is it will become damper still in the future. In these areas you could try establishing plants that are happy by the side of a stream or pond, such as Hostas, Ferns, Primula beesiana, Astilbe and Caltha palustris.
A warmer, wetter environment doesn’t help if you’re hanker after a Mediterranean-style dry garden. However, if you improve drainage by using raised beds and digging in lots of gravel and grit, couple with a southerly aspect and use pale coloured surfaces to reflect the sun, you could still enjoy the look of the south of France. It’s all about adapting to change and using a bit of vision.