March can never be described as predictable. After Spring seemed to be rapidly unfolding; winter had one more surprise up its sleeve; covering some parts of the country with a sprinkling of snow, and others battered by high winds and rain, reminding us to be cautious with our gardening practises.
Even with weather challenges, many plants are looking spectacular at the moment. Magnolia buds have burst into flower, Camellia's put in a breathtaking colourful show and bulbs have gone ballistic!
Narcissus, muscari, and hyacinths are in full swing at the moment with tulips fast on the way. Green foliage is finally littered with colour.
So many shrubs and perennials are looking fabulous now. From Daphne to Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’ Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii, Skimmia japonica and Clematis armandii, flowers, foliage and scent flood the garden with many buds breaking leaf as with Acers.
Time for a satisfying Spring clean in the garden. Rake up fallen leaves to prevent fungal spores spreading but try and resist disturbing the soil too much if you do not need too. I discovered some incredible mycorrhizal fungi happily spreading its network of veins under years and years of leaf litter and some stunning gall covered leafs. Little miracles of nature hiding just below the surface.
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, tubers, corms and rhizomes for a colourful display this year. Try gladioli, crocosmia, lilies, dahlias, cannas and bergonias. Check overwintered dahlia tubers. Remove any material that has rotted. By mid March they will be ready to pot on.
Find a suitable sized pot with plenty of space for shoots to develop and cover the tuber in multi-purpose compost. Again store in a frost-free area such as a garage or greenhouse until the dahlia tubers are ready to plant outside early June in their final summer sanctuary.