March Column: Homegrown Gardener

Published on: 08 Mar 2013

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March Column: Homegrown Gardener

February is not a month I associate with much gardening. With the very dull weather in the first half of the month, and all of January, I feel very disinterested. Crocus

I do not do much planting so seed and plant catalogues are not a distraction to me. But usually eventually something catches my attention and I start to take an interest again.

Just a few days ago, during one of those lovely sunny days, I spotted some yellow dots in the rather unkempt grass. It was a group of yellow crocus, just beginning to show their heads.

Looking further I found some more under a tree, and also three or four daffodils in flower. That brightened my mood and I began to examine plants more closely. 

Under an upturned pot I found the first shoot of a miniature fuchsia, and shifting a pile of leaves I found a head of Timperly Early rhubarb, just about six inches high. Close by a euonymus was given a good shake and combed through to clear away dead foliage, and all the roses have some healthy shoots. Pruning will wait a few more days. And the hellebores have done us proud, making a lovely show in the shelter of a large shrub.

So the marvellous cycle of nature continues to give us so much pleasure.

Depression

A garden is a lovesome thing -

When it starts blooming in the spring

The daffodil, the snowdrop white,

The dainty winter aconite...

And just as it is going strong,

The woolly aphid comes along.

Wireworms and weevils think it fun

To eat your annuals one by one.

Until the caterpillars start

To break your horticultural heart.

Go, take a flat or buy a yacht.

A garden is a lovesome thing- God wot.

Staking. With the mad March winds coming what do you do about those tall plants that sag or topple in the rain and wind? Wait until it happens and struggle to get some canes and string around them, heave them upright and leave them looking sorry for themselves? Or do you plan ahead? Some quite practical supports I have seen, green and curved into a semicircle, with three upright legs into the ground serve a nice purpose. My favourites are the preformed circles, of various diameters, with three long separate legs. Set over the roots of something like asters they can be raised gradually as the plant grows until it flowers. I also use my own invention for the taller plants, I have some stout plastic netting 3ft wide on a roll. Cut a length, roll it into a cylinder, plonk it over the plant and secure it with big tent pegs or canes.

I have learned the hard way about hedges. Although they get cut regularly, they always finish up being fatter than they should. So I have put down a marker for each and I am determined to trim to that mark, so the hedges will be very tidy.

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