As February draws to a close and March begins, the March wind do blow – we see the tops of the trees sway and branches fall but the birds are busy twittering away and lining up nesting materials.
There is also a squirrel in our garden – maybe one of the baffled ones? (see photo) who is tearing at the piece of netting lodged in the tree at the back of the garden – nest materials for her also perhaps?
The primroses are in flower and the bulbs are beginning, dwarf irises and early dwarf narcissi as well as cyclamen coum flower. Symphitum of all varieties including Ibericum; tuberosum; ibiriceum; flower ready for the early solitary bee with the long proboscis that feeds on their colourful tubes. Also beginning are the Pulmonaria we have ‘raspberry splash’; ‘Beth chatto’; ‘frehling shimmmel’; and various blues – all with spotted leaves of many shades, that give them their name as they were beloved to help cure lung disease. And the buds on our magnolias are ripening.
Now is the time to mulch the plants. Organic mulch from your compost heap or manure if your garden needs it, mixed with soil, will feed for the season and help prevent dryness in the height of the summer. Weeds will grow but mulch helps smother them -unless your compost heap was not hot enough to kill the weed seeds of course!
It is also the time to complete any pruning not yet finished – by Easter you should be finished. Once the sap starts rising it can damage the plants to be pruned and watch out for pruning fig trees once the sap is rising – it is very sticky and unpleasant.
If you have had hyacinths or spring bulbs in your house over the winter – plant them out to flower for next year in your main garden. You may find that over time the hyacinths change back to blue but…or put them in pots and out of sight for a patio display next spring. Now is the time to look at other people’s gardens to see what bulbs they have planted for the spring. Have they got a different daffodil? Or a new iris or? But the tulips are yet to come so keep some space for them… and whatever you do, don’t remove the leaves from your daffodils until at least six weeks or longer if you can, have passed. Remove the dead heads but let the leaves soak up the feed to increase the bulb size and start offsets. Feed your bulbs while still in flower or as they start to poke through the sol. Leaving it until they are finished flowering is rather late.
If you are growing early annuals such as poppies or marigolds, you can start to sow in prepared seed beds or trays but beware the rain if in trays – don’t let it wash all the seeds out as has happened to me in the past – or foxes upset the trays. So put them somewhere safe and well drained.
In January to February the foxes are bold in our garden and we find they play with toys they drag in from everywhere. Keep a look out as they rather indiscriminate with what they play – we have had soiled nappies, tins, plastic bag and the detritus from our cat’s litter tray pulled around the garden. Some of this we believe is the hormones from females that are found in heir excrement and urine that attract the males regardless of them not being foxes… and their curiosity as to where this smell is coming from leads them to carry stuff around and pull it apart to check there isn’t a female fox smell hidden somewhere…