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What to do in the garden this March

    1. Mulch. After weeding, give bare soil a thick layer of organic matter such as well-rotted manure. Mulch stops soil losing water as weather warms up, suppresses weeds and smartens everything up.
    2. Fertilise. Sprinkle soil with an organic slow release fertilser, such as chicken pellets or fish, blood and bone and lightly fork around trees and shrubs. Give roses a special rose feed or a balanced fertiliser.
    3. Plant and deadhead bulbs. Divide or plant snowdrops while they’re still green. Deadhead daffodils, leaving the green foliage. Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus and lilies in a sunny spot.
    4. Invest in spring flowering plants. I love blue Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ and pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ as well as magnolias and camellias – the single white varities are particularly delicate. This is also a good time to plant new climbers, 22cm away from walls and the last chance to plant bare root trees, roses and shrubs – the hair roots need to start getting established.
    5. Move plants. Move shrubs that are in the wrong place, taking as large a root ball as you can, adding well-rotted compost.
    6. Divide plants. Create new plants by dividing large clumps of perennials. Use two forks back to back to tease the roots apart – and don’t worry if some roots break.
    7. Prune perennials. Cut down overgrown perennials and grasses to make way for new growth. Prune your roses removing dead, diseased and crossing stems, then pruning flowering wood back by a third. Established cornus (dogwood) can now be cut down to the base to encourage colourful winter stems. Prune hydrangeas to a third of last year’s growth.
    8. Late flowering clematis (Group 3) such as Jackmannii and ‘Etoile Violette’, by cutting them 23-24cm from the ground, to just above a healthy bud. Summer flowering jasmine can also be pruned by taking out the main stem or two to the ground. Honeysuckle, ivies, rambling roses and winter flowering jasmine can also be pruned hard.
    9. Grow scented sweet peas by make a bamboo wigwam, and planting two seeds at 30cm intervals and 1cm deep in situ. Young plants may need help before tendrils twine themselves around the support.
    10. Cut and feed your law. Start mowing your lawn for first time on a high setting. If needed, aerate it by making holes with a fork 10cm deep and 20cm apart. Give the lawn a feed of chicken manure pellets towards the end of the month – ideally when the lawn is damp.

This article first appeared in the March 2020 issue of SE22 magazine.