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Gardener's Diary            March


Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners








Gardener's Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin. 


An introduction from Rosemary...     

I have been gardening now as a hobby for about thirty years, but have no formal training..  I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime  ...  

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife, remembering to tell me which country you are from..  

Click here for previous editions of Gardener's Diary..





Fifty ninth edition -  March 2006   

The last few days of February gave us an icy blast from the north, and is set to last for yet another week..  But the days are opening out and we have seen glimpses of the sun and felt it's warmth already.

Spring is just around the corner...


Have you a pond in your garden and do you or your neighbours have children visiting? Is your pond safe, or could a child fall in and drown or be seriously injured? Protect children and animals from falling in and your fish from heron attack, by fitting Safadeck pond safety grids, see here.

Pond owners might also like to think about having their ponds professionally cleaned and repaired this spring.. All ponds, at some time or another, need a good clean. Decomposing debris lies on the bottom of the pond. This releases ammonia, nitrite and nitrates into the water. When exposed in high levels, this can be harmful to your fish, and in some cases can prove fatal.

Dirty water spoils the look of the pond - your water should be clear so that you can see right to the bottom. Plants need to be kept in check so that they don`t become too overgrown.


Jobs for the garden in March


House plants

Houseplants: Indoor Plants Anyone Can Grow


Increase watering and feed plants more frequently. Check root systems and re-pot into a larger pot if necessary. If the weather is warm enough stand larger specimens outside and give them a wash with the hose pipe on `fine spray`and let them dry before bringing them back inside. This is a job that can also be done in the summer on a rainy day. 





March - April are good months for sowing or laying new lawns. Existing lawns should be swept and raked before mowing.  This is a good month to remove any build up of moss with an electric scarifier, which is an extremely satisfying job...   


Shrub borders and roses

Native Trees and Shrubs for Your GardenIf you didn`t do this task in February, turn over the borders with a fork to freshen them up and let air in - as the earth will have become compacted over winter - taking out any weeds at the same time. Cut out any dead or twiggy wood from rose bushes and shrubs. Prune roses and any shrubs, early summer and later flowering clematis hybrids, ornamental grape vines and wisteria, according to instructions in your gardening book.

This is the time of year to cut Dogwood shrubs right back to within a few inches of the ground, for a great display next winter.


Paths, walls and fencing

Do any necessary repairs before plant growth starts. Use a weedkiller such as Pathclear to kill grass and weeds on concrete areas for a whole season. Examine the supports for climbing plants and replace if necessary. Pressure clean paths or other ground areas that have become slippery with moss and algae. (Read instructions carefully on weedkiller packets if you have pets)


Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or SunspaceContinue or start to sow summer bedding plants and tomatoes. Plants that you have stored over winter such as pelargoniums, (geraniums) fuchsias and tuberous begonias can now be started into growth and cuttings taken from the pelargoniums. Keep some gentle heat on in the greenhouse during the nights as frosts will still quickly kill your new seedlings. I usually start seeds off in the house and transfer them to the conservatory until May when it is safe to put them in my unheated greenhouse. They will tend to get leggy and lean towards the light, so will need turning every so often.. Why not give ready germinated seedlings a try, I can thoroughly recommend them!


Continue to sow successional crops such as salads and carrots. You don`t need a vegetable garden or allotment to enjoy home grown vegetables as they can be grown in amongst the flowers. In fact it helps to keep the aphids and carrot fly away if you plant vegetables amongst flowers such as marigolds, and I think it looks really nice to see vegetables and salad stuff dotted around the borders. Later on you could put a small wigwam of runner beans in, or even grow them in grow bags if you only have a patio  area.



The first fortnight in March provides a final opportunity for fruit planting while the plants are still dormant. Before growth starts, do any late pruning of young plum trees according to your book, give them some fertiliser and protect blossom from frost with horticultural fleece.


RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers (RHS S.)Trees and shrubs

If there are any dead or diseased branches or twigs on new or existing trees, cut them out. Give a top dressing with a fertilizer and mulch. Check that the supports and ties for young trees are secure but not too tight, and won't rub against the trunk. This is a good time to make sure that new trees develop a good shape by cutting back any badly shaped branches. I pinch out the tips of new trees so they form a bushier shape... 


Water gardens  

If the weather is suitable for you to do a pond `spring clean` then take care not to disturb any mating frogs or toads.  If they haven`t yet paired off you can put them in a bucket and cover them until it`s time to put them back in the pond. The same goes for the fish. We put ours in a plastic plastering bath where they swim around quite happily until being returned to their pond. If you are re-lining a concrete pond take care to use the correct sealant afterwards, and give it ample time to dry.  It`s a little early in the year for buying aquatic plants. 



The birds are very busy this month pairing off and mating. If you are thinking of placing new nesting boxes, make sure they face North so the sun doesn`t shine into them. Clean out any old nesting boxes with a hand brush but not disinfectant or water. I always take some time out at this time of year to spend a few minutes in the garden, bird spotting and listening to their varied and tuneful songs. One of life`s little pleasures...



Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..










The Yellow Book: NGS Gardens Open for CharityRHS gardens

Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-

RHS flower shows for 2006, see here

March RHS flower show, see below:-

RHS National Orchid Show

18 - 19 March 2006

Exhibitors from around the world will put on spectacular displays of orchids to display the newest and most exotic hybrids as well as the more traditional varieties.


Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming Please tell me which country you live in as knowing the climate can help me solve your problem. Your current email address is necessary as my replies are occasionally returned to me as undeliverable..

There was a technical hitch with emails recently and if anyone has not had a reply from me regarding their gardening query, perhaps they would like to re-send them..


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new and any special seasonal offers

Some places to visit...  Visit the Eden Project


The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.




Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN



The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden


The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...



Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming

Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 







Useful reading:-


"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced ?5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is ?6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website




Amazon book - A year at Kew

 Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden

Amazon book - RHS Plants for Places: 1000 Tried and Tested Plants for Every Soil, Site and Usage (RHS)

Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)


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