Update from the Gardens – March 2024

It has stopped raining at last, and just in time as our glorious magnolia's are just getting into their stride!


It as stopped raining at last!  We can really get onto the beds and start tackling the cutting back and the weeding.  Even with the rain the temperatures have been mild, and we have had a few ‘T-Shirt’ days in the garden already this year.   

Highlights in the Garden this month.

It has to be the Magnolias.  You cant mistake their gorgeous blossoms.  We have Magnolia stellata, Magnolia grandiflora, Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’, and Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alba Superba’.

The forsythia is also looking lovely, perhaps the champion on the spring yellow blossoms, but a close second is the Cornus mas.  Its looking lovely in the 17th Century garden.  Finally, thanks to the main show coming from sepals (not petals) the Hellebore display goes on and on.

Jobs for March

  • This month is rose pruning month.  We are a little behind as the wet weather has meant we were reluctant to get on the beds early in the month but we are now in full swing.  For our bush roses, we are taking two different approaches.  The red floribunda roses (Rosa ‘Love Struck’) which share their beds with nepeta, we are leaving them a little taller.  The nepeta grew so well last year the rose blooms were right in the mass.  Hopefully leaving them a little taller this year will mean the roses shine out above the nepeta’s blue haze.  On the other hand Rosa ‘Peace’ will be given its normal short back and sides only three or so buds from the ground, to encourage lots of new growth from the base.  All the rose are feed with blood fish and bone pellets at this time of year to give them a helping hand and then mulched to retain moisture.
  • We are also concentrating on preparing the herbaceous border now it has had a chance to dry out.  We are lifting and dividing some perennials, but also adding back some divided in autumn and over wintered in pots now we can see where we have gaps.   This is also the best time of year to feed and mulch the border to reduce the need for weeding in amongst the plants later in the year when the exuberant growth makes navigating in the border more difficult.  We are also trying an alternative strategy to tackling the bind weed infestation in the border this year.  I will be adding single bamboo canes into the border where we have seen signs of growth.  The bind weed will hopefully climb the canes and not the other plants, meaning it will be easier to pull it out regularly without wrecking the border.  If it works I will be thanking Matthew Wilson for this tip, as heard on Gardeners Question time.
  • In your own garden it is time to plant your broad bean seeds now the soil has dried enough for planting.  You can plant later but then you run into more black fly as they start to mature.  With broad beans earlier is better.
  • You can also chit potato tubers and plant your first early varieties.  You are looking for short and stubby growths, which are dark green with a possible touch of purple in colour.  If you are getting the white, long shoots which are familiar to us all from potatoes left too long in the cupboard, your tubers need more light.  Try them on a sunny window sill.
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