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GARDENS FOR NATURE AND YOU

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A general light hoeing now of borders and beds, followed by a mulch of peat or garden compost will help with moisture retention during the dryer months of summer. Lawn clippings can be used, but not if you have just treated the lawn with selective weed killer. Be sure to keep fresh mulches away from the base of the shrub to avoid burning.


Herbaceous borders should be planted this month. If the beds were not prepared in the Autumn, dig it over and incorporate compost or well rotted manure before planting. There is such a wide choice of perennials to choose from to bring long term colour to the garden, with very little work, once established. Think about colours and height when designing the layout.


Borders look best if taller plants are placed at the back, with graduating smaller plants put towards the front, but don’t be afraid to plant in large drifts in groups of 3 or 5 or more for real impact, going from front to back with a single variety.


Island beds will to be viewed from all sides - so the tallest plants should go in the centre of the bed, following the same principles as for borders, but coming away from the centre.


Lawns will need tending to now. If the grass is growing, go over with the mower but keep the cutter blades set high to avoid scalping which encourages moss to take over. Rake over to remove winter debris and moss and see to any weeds. As suggested above, use the clipping as a mulch to go around shrubs.

At last, we can now get a real feeling of Spring in the air. The days are getting longer and the garden is demanding attention.




MARCH

All the spring flowering bulbs which were planted last Autumn will be through now. Iris, Scillas, early daffodils and spring flowering crocus are all opening their buds to the warm sunshine.


Shrubs Magnolias Stellata and soulangeana, Viburnum burkwoodii, Pieris japonica, Camellia japonica and Corylopsis spicata will all be flowering and scenting the air with their blossom in March. This is a good time to see shrubs in flower in the garden centre, you can see what you are buying, take note of names and varieties for buying and planting in autumn.


Deciduous shrubs can still be planted at this time. Also shrub herbs such as rosemary, lavender, sage and other grey/silver leaved herbs.


Late summer flowering shrubs which flower on this seasons wood should be pruned this month. Vigorous growers like Buddleia, Caryopteris (blue spiraea) and Hydrangea will need to be cut back hard. Other shrubs will only need to be clipped back enough to keep them in check, some, like the lavender will not recover from being pruned hard back into dead wood.


Review the rock garden:

The early harbingers of Spring will be going over and this is a good time to move snowdrops and the little iris reticulatae as they die down.

If they have become overgrown they will more easily re-establish themselves while ‘still in the green’. New plants can be put in to fill empty gaps.