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Ken Cox's guide to things to do in March in the garden.
The timing of when trees and shrubs burst into flower in the Spring depends on how cold or mild it is... Snowdrops can flower as early as January or as late as March. This is the month for tough and reliable shrubs like flowering currant (Ribes) and golden Forsythia. The buds of Magnolias are swelling, usually opening in April. Glendoick's early rhododendrons like 'Ptarmigan' are starting to show colour now.
Early perennials are flowering now: look out for patterned leaved pulmonaria, helleboures with dark purple, pink or white flowers, are excellent for planting under trees and shrubs. The original 'wild' primroses with creamy yellow flowers are out now. As are the elephant-eared Bergenia with pink or white flowers, ideal for a path edge.
Begonias for hanging baskets. These need to be kept indoors till May. They'll flower all summer.
Lillies you can plant them in the garden or in containers. In heavy soil plant with sand or grit at the base.
Dahlias for late summer colour. They are frost tender so plant them deep and mulch them to protect the early shoots.
Crocosmia 3 different colours, for long lasting late summer colour. The orange red ones are the hardiest: varieties like 'Lucifer'.
Roses dont look like much at this time of year but this is a good time to plant them. March sees the main rose stock come in: bush and climbing roses and some of the best David Austin Roses for Scotland, usually in by the end of March or early April.
In Scotland pruning roses quite late in winter is advisable so that they don’t sprout too early. Cut out old woody stems and reduce the height of tall straggly stems by 2/3rds. A 1m stem (3ft) should go back to 30cm (1ft) for example. Hybrid T roses can be pruned even harder. In really cold gardens you can leave pruning till April.
Fruit Trees and bushes: this is the ideal time of year to plant currants, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, plums, cherries. Get them in before they start growing and they'll make good growth in their first season. It is best to not to let apples fruit in the first two years as the branches are not strong enough to bear them. Pick them off when small.
2nd Early and maincrop potatoes should be planted this month. Make sure the emerging shoots don’t get frosted by mounding up soil to cover any emerging shoots.
Sow seeds: Sow chillies & peppers in a warm place/propagator. Early salads can be sown now, but make sure you have some protection to keep frost off. Start sowing sweet corn, courgettes and other vegetables indoors and plant them out in May when it is warm enough. This is also the time to sow beetroot, leek, lettuce and summer cabbage.
Some perennials get congested and are best divided up every few years, or maybe yoiu jujst want some extra plants.
Just as you see the first signs of new growth. You can use two forks to prize apart stubborn clumps. With some perenials you can get almost unlimited plants. Ensure that each piece of stem has enough root. Large bits can go straight back in the ground. Small pieces are best potted.
You can divide congested clumps of snowdrops ‘in the green’ as the flowers go over.