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March 2016 Newsletter
After a mixed-bag of a winter weather-wise, and some interesting flower appearances – apples sporadically blossoming in December and the odd daffodils coming up in January – it’s good to get started on some spring-gardening tasks.
It’s the perfect time to start sowing seeds of your favourite annual bedding flowers and perennials. Plum cherries are now in full flower which herald the start of spring as well as daffodils emerging in earnest.
Our summer bulbs are available to order now too- order in lily bulbs for summer lilies great for pots and cut flowers. Our bulb collection also includes a range of begonia tubers and gladioli corms for maximum colour and height in the flowerbed.
Top Tips for March
Once you notice that the colourful stems of your dogwoods are breaking into leaf, it’s time for you to prune them back to just above soil level. This means that the plants have the whole of summer to grow first-year stems again for bright colourful stems during the following winter.
After you have pruned the stems, cut them into smaller pieces and add to the compost bin. Then apply some bulky compost or manure around the plants to feed the roots and encourage good growth over summer.
2016 is the Fleuroselect of the Cosmos, and you can pay homage by growing your own Cosmos from seed now for a lovely colourful display later in the year. The flowers are bright, large and cheery and the leaves have a feathery intricate texture.
Sow individual seeds in modules filled with seed compost by placing them on top of the modules and sprinkling a small layer of soil to cover. Alternatively use a layer of vermiculite or perlite to cover. Place the modules on a tray filled with water and label the modules with the variety and date.
Water with a watering-can with attached sprinkler (rose) daily in the morning or evening (or both if it’s a particularly warm March). Later in spring they’ll be ready to transfer to larger pots or in the flowerbed.
Summer bulbs produce flowers that look exotic and vibrant- especially when grown in full sun. It’s now time that you can plant them in the soil in flowerbeds to a depth of around three times the height of the bulb or bulb-like corms.
They’ll thrive in soil that is rich, yet free draining. Growing in pots is great, as bulb compost provides the perfect soil environment. If you’re growing in flowerbeds add a soil conditioner like Jack’s Magic to improve the soil texture for the bulbs.
You can help to keep pondwater clear and free of scum by giving it a biological-based treatment such as Eco Sure Pond Clear Aqua Super 12. By treating the pond to just a few applications you can achieve a really healthy pond environment, relying on and encouraging beneficial bacteria to thrive in the pond.
Buy a range of pond plants, some that float on the surface and some that grow at the pondside, and you will get welcome colour as well as provide vital shelter and cool-spots for aquatic wildlife. Try a pondside iris, a floating oxygenating plant such as curly water thyme and a waterlily to get you started.
Use a rake to level the surface and create a crumble-like tilth. At this point remove any weeds or large stones etc. Water the surface prior to sowing. This is better than watering over the top of seeds once they are sown as the force of the water can displace the seeds unevenly.
Thinly scatter the seed over the soil or place at regular stations- depending if you want an informal or more structured display. If scattering seed pour the seed into the palm, then tap lightly with the other hand to distribute the seed evenly over the area of soil.
Use a rake to gently cover the seeds with soil. Before you forget where the row is and what you’ve sown, place a label in the soil at one end. Remember to water in dry spells.
As the weather warms in spring, and particularly towards the end of the month, it’s a great idea to give your lawn a pre-summer treatment of cutting, weeding and feeding. When you first mow the lawn in spring set the blade if possible so that it’s on a ‘high-cut’. This means the grass is not subjected to too extreme a cut which can be detrimental if there are late frosts.
It’s good to cast an eye over the lawn to see if there are any patches that could do with a bit of TLC. It’s usual that some areas are more prone to drying out than others or receive more wear and tear. Rest assured – these are repairable and re-seeding is a great job you can do now.
Patches of moss in the lawn can be unsightly and usually indicate problems with soil acidity levels. This is redeemable and you can reduce the amount of moss by tending to the lawn throughout the year – March included. Use a moss-killer or soil acidity neutraliser and resolve the problem.
Even with the most fastidious care weeds can take a hold in your lawn, robbing grass roots of essential nutrients and moisture and ruining the overall visual effect. Dandelions and daisies are the best-known culprits, and create a headache for a lot of gardeners. You can grub out dandelion roots manually or apply a weedkiller, specially selected to kill the broad-leaved weeds, leaving grass unharmed.
Once you’ve made the first cut of the season, which should be a mere trim at this stage, you can put the lawn in good stead by treating it to a feed, high in nitrogen and trace elements that it will truly appreciate.
Lawn spreaders allow easy and even application of granular feeds and treatments. Spreaders take the stress out of guessing quantities and give the lawn the products they need at the precise quantity for best results.
This month we visited The National Trust property Belton House. Still affected by winter you can really appreciate the importance of evergreen planting and topiary to carry the garden early in the year just on the cusp of spring.
If you have evergreen shrubs in your garden like box or yew, keep the foliage closely pruned with snips as frequently as you can. Topiary looks handsome in the winter especially when touch by frost.
If you have water features in your garden, planting ferns at the edge adds late winter / early spring interest as well as providing helpful shelter to wildlife during the colder months
March is the start of the daffodil season epitomising the beginning of spring. Our unpredictable and generally mild winter has brought these into flower earlier than usual.
Snowdrops look impactful in large groups under trees. View them close-up too; you’ll notice the beautiful green patterns on the petals.
These early woodland flowers are great for fans of blues and mauves in the garden. They establish quickly and their spotted leaves complement the flowers well.
Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry, has chosen 2016 as the Year of the Cosmos, and rightly so! This amazing half-hardy annual produces flowers in abundance atop the most attractive and intricate feathery foliage.
- Makes a great annual flower for containers or in the centre of the flower bed
- Easy to sow, plant and care for
- Attractive to beneficial pollinators
- Make lovely cut flowers
TOP TIP – The feathery foliage gives these flowers a delicate airy appearance. Grow with Verbena bonariensis which also grows with delicate slim stems and leaves and complement each other perfectly.
FASCINATING FACT – Cosmos grows well in lightly poorer soils, which is great if you have shallow, dry soils. They hate water-logged soil so be sure soil is well-drained and not saturated.
PESTS & DISEASES – Aphids and slugs can be troublesome. Encouraging ladybirds and birds into the garden will keep pest populations down. Grey mould can sometimes set in. Be sure to remove dead stems as they arise to keep on top of this.
Create colour indoors with flowers. Grown in pots you can add tender plants or half-hardy perennials. It’s a great way to get your green-fingers active, when there is less to do in the garden in winter.
What plants do you have growing indoors? Maybe a dramatic foliage plant or a plant that reveals a mass of scented blooms. Let us know and send in your pictures to Facebook or Twitter.
Unwins NEW 2016 Catalogue
On 3 and 4 March expect to receive your Spring 2016 edition of the Unwins catalogue. It’s an exciting time of year when you can start ordering your seeds and young plants in earnest as well as summer bulbs for exotic flower displays.
We’ve NEW varieties this season for you to enjoy including Hydrangea Magical Season and Rudbeckia ‘Russet Glow’ as well as new soil and plant conditioner Envii range based on probiotic bacteria formulae.
Now is an excellent time to start adding plants to your pond for the summer season ahead. This year we’ve got a wide range of pond plants including colourful marginals, waterlilies and green oxygenating floating plants.
In addition we offer an easy-to-apply biological solution to year-round clear water for attractive and healthy ponds, teeming with aquatic life.
Consider our Sweet Peas new Varieties Collection as an excellent Mother’s Day gift. It’s great for budding gardeners and fans of sweet peas, those most-captivating fragrant flowering climbers.
Our collection includes garden-worthy sweet pea varieties that we’ve tried and tested and seen excellent results.
Our Head of Horticulture James Oakey demonstrates how to start off your Sweet Pea Collection, using the excellent and comprehensive start-up Propagator for the best start for your sweet peas.