March Garden Activities

camellia, march, near the YM-YWCA, , ws
photo by SVSeekins

Birds are more plentiful this month. They’re singing, mating & nest-building. I like to clean & refill birdbaths. It’s also nice to provide some nesting materials seeing as how I’ve already composted much of the natural material over winter.

cherry blooms in Beacon Hill Park
photo by SVSeekins

Tools

  • Sharpen pruners, shears and hedge clippers and make sure they’re free from rust.
  • It’s best to clean pruners between each shrub. Spray with a solution of 10% bleach & water. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
Cyclamen coum
photo by SVSeekins

Spraying 

  • fruit trees – before the blooms open, apply dormant oil to control pests (unless it was done in February)

Pruning

  • mahonia bloom
    photo by SVSeekins

    Hydrangea should be pruned after the middle of March to avoid die back from freezing winds.

  • The common butterfly bush blooms only on new growth, so If it wasn’t cut it back to a manageable size in the fall, now’s a good time to prune it to the shape that suits the setting it’s in
  • Roses can be pruned when the forsythia is in bloom.
  • Forsythia & other flowering shrubs can be pruned right after flowering.
photo by SVSeekins
bergenia – elephant ears

Fertilizing

  • add compost or sea soil to areas of heavy feeding, like rhubarb, asparagus patch & veggie bed

Planting

  • Chionodoxa - Glory of Snow in rock crevice
    photo by SVSeekins

    Plant summer flowering bulbs (gladioli & lilies) towards the end of the month, depending on the soil conditions. They don’t like sitting in waterlogged soils.

  • Sow sweet peas and hardy annuals such as alyssum, & calendula.
early daffodils
photo by SVSeekins

Weeding

  • As the temperature increases so will growth. This is when that January mulching really starts to pay off.   Wander through the beds digging out the occasional perennial weeds (dandelions…)  If the mulching didn’t happen, keep a check on the carpet of young weeds & remove them before they take hold… Pop weed goes to seed quickly, so get rid of it fast!
photo by SVSeekins
Donkey Tail Spurge

Perennials

  • The worst of the cold is past now & the birds have more choices for food. Now’s the time to cut back the perennials left standing for the birdseed… Tall sedums blooms are a good example.  Isn’t it nice to see the new growth at the base is already showing?
photo by SVSeekins
hellebore and; crocus

Now’s also the time to finish up dividing those overgrown hardy perennials:

  • Cut the tops back to a couple of inches.
  • Lift the whole plant out with a fork.
  • Look for a natural line across the plant and cut it with a sharp knife right through.
  • Continue this until you have divided the plant up to suit your needs.
  • Replant the pieces in groups of 3-5 to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating colour schemes.
  • Pot up spares immediately.
  • Water well.
English Daisy meadow WSO
photo by SVSeekins

Lawns

  • Edge the beds & lawns now, slicing the grass runners that are trying to invade the garden.

The grass will be growing steadily now,
Make sure the mower is serviced and ready for the season.

aubrecia & candy tuft dangling over a short wall
photo by SVSeekins
  • Before mowing, remove thatch and moss by scarifying with a lawn rake.
  • Set the blades to a higher setting (3cm) for the first few cuts.
  • Stay off or try to minimise activity on the lawn if it is wet. It will turn to mud very quickly in the wet.
  • Re-seed any bare areas: scratch the surface with a lawn rake and sow.

Veg & Berry Patch

red flowering currant ms
photo by SVSeekins
  • Get into the raspberry patch & take out the spent & spindly stems. Tidy up the bed & tie this year’s producers to the trellis.
  • starts – Direct seed arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kale, chard, spinach, oriental greens and peas outdoors.
early rhododendron
photo by SVSeekins

Greenhouse & Cold Frames

  • Buy seed potatoes now and store the tubers in a light, cool (10°C), frost-free spot and leave them to sprout. (This is called chitting.) Egg cartons make good chitting trays. Make sure to put the tubers with the ‘eye’ end ( where the sprouts will grow from) upwards.
  • starts – asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, peppers, eggplants…  start tomatoes later in the month
species tulip
photo by SVSeekins

Watch for ‘damping off’ disease in seedlings in the greenhouse or indoors. This fungus causes the stems to collapse and the seedlings to fall over.

  • Avoid over-crowding seeds & sprouts. It’s better to have a tray of fewer, healthy plants than to lose many to this disease
  • Water often, but sparingly
  • Ensure that seedlings get enough light to prevent them becoming ‘leggy’.
  • Turn seed trays daily to ensure even growth.
grape hyacinth
photo by SVSeekins

Ponds
Remove fallen leaves and other decaying plant debris from ponds. Frogs and other aquatic life will be emerging from winter hibernation so a good tidy up now prevents stagnation & algae build up.

basket of gold, aurinia
photo by SVSeekins
Seasonal Color
trees: flowering plum… early cherries….
shrubs: forsythia… red flowering currant… silk tassel bush… camelliaviburnum spring dawnmahoniaheathers… pieris (lily of the valley shrub)… sarcococca… heavenly bamboo… early rhodos… cotoneaster…
perennials: aubretia… basket of gold (aurinia)… candy tuft… bergeniahellebore… primula… winter jasmine… donkey tail spurge (euphorbia)… vinca (periwinkle)…
ferns: licorice…
bulbs: crocus… winter aconite (eranthis)… cyclamen coum… early daffodils… early species tulips… hyacinth… chionodoxa (glory of snow)…
primula wanda
photo by SVSeekins

Planning & Events

  • The Victoria Orchid Club hosts its spring show (usually the first weekend in March)
  • Garden shops are opening up for the season, so it’s fun to cruise them for ideas, but most of their early starts aren’t ready to go out into the garden yet, so control yourself (unless you’re up for nursing those babies inside for another month or two).

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© SVSeekins, 2014

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Climbing Heather

climbing heather in Central Saanich
photo by SVSeekins

Perhaps it’s a new species of heather?

Certainly it’s the talk of gardeners in Brentwood Bay & Saanichton.

Now the mystery is solved.  Paul, the gardener, was in attendance when we drove past the other day, so I stopped to chat with him.

He says it’s just a regular heather that started to climb the ground wires of the utility pole.  He thought that looked kinda cool, so he encouraged it along by tieing the heather further & further up as it grew.  The ties wear out & fall off about the same time as the new branches mature enough to hold themselves in place.

It’s famous, says Paul.  The local newspaper reporter also stopped by for the photo-op.  Pretty cool, eh?

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© SVSeekins, 2014