Anna Taylor, owner of Anna’s Flower Farm in Audley End, shares what’s going on in the garden this month
In like a lion, out like a lamb. Or vice versa. A little traditional weather lore prediction, there, for March. On account of it being a changeable month – one moment clear and clement, the next, roaring storms of wind and rain – the last thing we need is more unpredictability in our lives right now, on top of the erratic weather.
So, I will clutch onto the little boat that is gardening, in the capricious and frankly unnerving waters of 2022. If there was ever a time to take solace in a packet of seeds, it is now. Whether you have a greenhouse or windowsill, allotment or pots by the front door, seeing the progress of some hardy annuals growing from tiny leaves to flowering plants never loses its enchantment. Seed sowing can begin in earnest this month, with cornflowers, calendula and snapdragons being hardy enough to emerge outside. Wait until the end of March for ‘half hardys’ like cosmos, nicotiana and zinnias that must be grown with some protection until the danger of frosts is past (late May for us). Don’t forget sweet peas – or any peas for that matter! These want long roots to establish, so choose a deeper pot, or plant straight into the ground – keeping it well-watered. That little seed has all it needs to develop, once given a little light, soil and water. There’s a metaphor there somewhere…
Outside, spring is shooting, and I am really excited about the many new narcissus varieties I planted last October. Unlike the tulip, when cut, they are still able to return stronger the next year. I don’t know why we have forgotten about this bulb and accepted the bold yellow version as the only one on offer. While I love the ubiquitous daff, there are beautiful varieties with subtly different colourations and shapes that flower between February and May – giving months of spring delight. Once you have seen these, the narcissus expected on future Mother’s Days will be much chicer versions, I assure you.
Like September, March is another of my pivotal points of the year: the days lengthening, soil beginning to warm and buds swelling. In the borders, I clear away last year’s growth protecting crowns of plants over winter. Now those shoots need air, light and water, and the insects no longer require the sheltered protection that the leaves provide. While I am at it, I lift and divide grasses or late summer perennials, replanting smaller clumps. With rapid growth, we know that these plants will root and gather pace quickly.
It’s the last few weeks of planting bare root roses, shrubs and trees for future you to enjoy – you won’t regret it. Use plenty of compost for a good start, and keep well-watered, allowing the plant to establish.
A new season, a new start, another go at it. It may still be a little chilly with the sun low in the sky, but the clocks going forward on the spring equinox mark an optimistic time in the garden. There’s all to hope for, with much reward for caring attention. I don’t care what beast the month is behaving like, I know we are out of winter and heading to brighter days.
Anna is running ‘Seed Sowing’ and ‘Growing Naturally’ classes from the plots this month. Book your class and order ‘Ready to Arrange’ flowers or bouquets delivered at annasflowerfarm.co.uk