Well we have had an unexpected start to March. After Spring seemed to be rapidly unfolding; winter had one more surprise up its sleeve; covering the land with a layer of white. Apart from the obvious inconvenience and lack of gardening achievable it was tremendous fun! I expect a lot of us managed to get out for a spot of toboganning! It is such a rarity these days that the beginning of March really should be treasured.
Then followed the sudden over night big thaw. Take stock of what plants survived. Some tender loving care may be needed to restore some plants to their former glory. The snow flattens the emerging blooms but plants are resilient and should spring back. Remove any material that has succumbed to the cold snap.
Time for a satisfying Spring clean in the garden. Rake up fallen leaves to prevent fungal spores spreading and cut back the last of the herbaceous perennial old stems such as Hylotelephium spectabile (formerly called Sedum spectabile).
And dead head old seed heads such as hydrangeas.
They have done a great job over winter protecting the stems and providing fabulous architectural shapes when covered in frost but the big buds are back and beginning to bloom so cut off the dead heads, back to a pair of fat healthy buds.
Finally cut back any Miscanthus grasses you have been hanging on to. They do provide wonderful winter interest but it is important to cut back the grasses before all the new growth reappears.
Plant summer flowering bulbs e.g. gladioli, crocosmia, lilies.
Plant out any forced flower bulbs; hyacinths, daffodils.
Lift and divide over grown perennials clumps and snowdrop bulbs.
Plant bare root roses. This is a cost effective way to buy roses and you will often find there are more varieties of bare root roses available than potted. A good way to increase your collection.
Enrich soil before commencing planting this season by adding organic matter eg. leafmould, garden compost or well-rotted manure; boosting nutrient content of the soil, improving its structure and helping to retain moisture. Apply a slow-release fertilizer such a blood, fish and bone to soil or chicken manure pellets.
Now is the perfect time to tackle annual and perennial weeds. As borders will be fairly clear you can truly see the structure of your garden and where problem areas lie. Great opportunity for digging up the roots of perennial weeds before they take hold; just take care to avoid all the spring bulbs and seedlings making an appearance now.
Many trees and shrubs can be pruned this month once they have finished flowering: Jasminum nudiflorum (winter flowering Jasmine), Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), Cotinus (smoke tree/bush), Eucalyptus, hardy Fuchsia, Hebe, Hypericum, Mahonia, Perovskia, Sambucus nigra (hard prune to encourage good foliage), Vinca and if not already pruned then buddleja.
Coppice Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) to ensure vivid winter stems next year.
Absolute last chance to prune apple and pear trees whilst they are dormant. The cold snap has helped prolong dormancy a little so get cracking!
Sow annuals indoors: dahlia 'Bishop's Children is a good choice and will produce flowers this year and tubers to lift, marigolds (it is the year of the marigold so I am sowing a lot of varieties), zinnia, pansies, asters, verbena and tomatoes.
Many hardy annuals can be direct sown such as poppies, cosmos, cornflowers, calendula, antirrhinum and wildflower mixes.
Start watering indoor plants more regularly, they will also benefit now from a feed. Just be aware that most houseplants suffer from problems with over watering rather than under watering.