THE TATSFIELD GARDENER IN MARCH
As I write these notes (mid February) I have been watching bumble bees and butterflies in the garden drawn there by the lovely scent of my winter flowering shrubs mentioned in my last notes. I have noticed also that the pansies and violas are now making strong growth and lots of flower buds. This month I will be giving all my containers a liquid feed (seaweed based) to provide a boost of nutrients and ensure a good display of flower in the coming months.
Continuing my theme of having bee friendly flowers in the garden all year round here are some more ideas: buy pot grown Wallflowers in bud now and plant them in a sunny spot – mixed colours and lovely gentle scent on a sunny day; pot grown Primroses in different colours are also available in our local garden centres; the Viburnum family of shrubs are great value with many varieties flowering in March/April buy varieties such as V. carlesii, V davidii, both of these varieties are medium sized shrubs; a lovely low growing perennial is the Lungwort (Pulmonaria) with speckled leaves and small pink, white or mauve flowers.
Now is a good time to plan for a summer show of bee friendly annual flowers in borders and containers. Garden centres are now offering packets of annual flower seed collections for specific purposes including varieties that are loved by bees and other pollinating insects. Preparation is very easy, lightly cultivate any bare patches of soil with a rake or small cultivator, scatter the seed and then rake them in and firm the soil gently. If it is dry, give them a light watering to help with germination. It is important to remember not to overwater or feed annual flowers, they are at their best in a sunny dry spot with watering only if the soil becomes very dry.
On a recent Tatsfield in Bloom volunteering morning (why not join us for some fresh air and gentle exercise, oh yes and a cuppa in Sheree’s afterwards!), I was asked how severe one should prune a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), and when should it be done. A very good question as most folk are far too gentle resulting in this vigorous plant growing into a small tree! Prune now, use a small saw or heavy loppers and cut this shrub down to within about a foot above the ground where you will see tiny grey shoots. The result will be strong shoots that make about six foot of growth and flower in mid to late summer at a height where you can enjoy those lovely spears of tiny flowers covered in butterflies.
This month I take delivery of a new greenhouse, I will be reporting on my early successes and disasters!