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March 2019 column

The Vernal Equinox, the days and nights are of equal length, tipping over into spring...

The Roman calendar March..

March has always been a pivotal month, In the Roman calendar March was the first month of the year and in Britain until 1752, Lady Day or 25thMarch was the beginning of the legal year. It seems far easier and productive to make our ‘new year’ resolutions now then in dark, cold January.

The most changeable month, March is almost always windy, ‘In like a lamb and out like a lion, in like a lion and out like a lamb’ is an old saying that tends to be true. – strong west winds bring rain, eastern northly ones the cold whilst a southerly wind will dry out and warm the soil. Conditions will dictate what we can start doing, the tasks must wait if it is very wet and the soil sodden otherwise you can get out there, weed, prepare the ground, cut the grass and plant. Whatever the weather, the days lengthen, the sun is higher in the sky and March is one of the busiest gardening months of the year.

Whilst I am desperate to sow seeds, there are very few I do so until later in the month or April. Hold off and I promise you will have bigger and better plants to enjoy in the summer.

Remember those Dahlias from my first column in November? Now we can get them out and start potting them up. We look for ‘eyes’, little growth points and cut off all the tubers without that will amount to nothing. Then we either pot up in large pots of multipurpose compost under cover out of the frost to start growing before planting out in late May or grow on to take cuttings. This is such a satisfying job and really marks the beginning of the growing season for us. To make lots of new plants from the precious tubers that we loved from the previous year is so satisfying and you can do this with your newly bought tubers. We lay tubers in shallow trays of soil with their necks and shoulders out, exposing those growth points. We use heat benches (heat cables running through sand boxes) to encourage faster growth as we want to create as many plants as possible, but you can do this on your window sill inside. When you see a good healthy shoot, you need to slice it off with a little piece of the tuber then pot it pressed into the side of a pot to grow on. Don’t water too much and allow roots to drive down creating stron9 new plants. These tiny cuttings will perform far better than last year’s tubers. Find a tutorial on this technique on our website and YouTube Channel.

And in the studio..

We will be using our first bulbs, Narcissus, early Tulips, Ranunculus, Anemones and Fritillaries. Our fruit trees are blossoming, and new growth enables us to create fresh arrangements with our bounty. The availability of flowers and foliage to cut will, from now on, only get more bountiful, welcome to Spring.

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