March is the month of possibilities in the garden and “growing and sowing” is high on the list of jobs to be getting on with. Some warmer days in late February have brought the spring bulbs on nicely. Snowdrops are in full flower and the ideal time to lift, divide and replant them is as soon as the flowers begin to fade. Don’t cut any of the green leaves off. Just replant your smaller clumps of bulbs and allow the greenery to die down naturally. Crocus are just starting to show colour. If the weather stays fair they should have a good season, but don’t mow the leaves off for about six weeks after they have finished flowering to allow all the goodness to find its way back into the corm as energy for next year’s flowers.
Summer flowering bulbs can be planted in the next few weeks and include lilies, gladioli and alliums. We will all be hoping for a bumper summer again this year and, if that happens, bees will be busy buzzing about the alliums, which are a great plant for attracting pollinators. Bulbs can be planted into the borders or into pots of gritty, well-drained compost. For a damp soil, or by the edge of a pond, arum lilies are very popular now and come in a range of exotic colours designed to bring a touch of the tropics to your garden. These can also be grown in pots – but stand the pot in a saucer of water to keep the compost consistently moist. Still on a tropical and exotic theme, Agapanthus are a popular bulb to grow in a patio pot. Once again, make sure your compost is gritty for good drainage, but be prepared to water as the season warms up!
The main secret for success with many bulbs, including agapanthus, is not to over pot them. Keep them in a pot just big enough to be comfortable, but not too big or you will get lots of leaf growth and very little or no flower. Alstroemerias or Peruvian lilies, although not strictly a bulb, are very hardy and relatively easy to grow, giving lots of brightly coloured flowers throughout the summer. They also make a really good cut flower to bring into the house for arranging. If you want something a little shorter in the stem why not try the Alstroemeria Princess series. They will flower abundantly as will the day lilies (Hemerocallis). They are what old gardeners would call ‘a good doer’.
In the veg garden, or in your containers, shallots and onion sets can be planted and seed potatoes can be ‘chitted’ (sprouted) in old egg boxes ready for planting, traditionally on Good Friday. Dahlias will be starting to wake up this month, and as soon as the shoots are about 3-4” long you can take some cuttings to increase your stock. Hardy annuals such as antirrhinums (snapdragons), cosmos and sunflowers are best sown now. Once the seedlings are potted up and growing on they can be stood outside and grown cold, freeing up precious space in the greenhouse for tender plants such as lobelia and petunia. This is certainly the time of the year when gardeners everywhere are wishing for that elusive greenhouse with expanding sides!
The next meeting of Muck and Magic Garden Club will be held on Monday 11th March when Plant Lady Sarah Hopps will be entertaining us. The meeting starts at 7pm at Ebenezer Church Hall, Columbus Ravine, Scarborough. More details from Sheila on 07961 966617 or from firstname.lastname@example.org.