However, since we live in north west England, we have to be ready for all eventualities when it comes to the weather. Whatever you’re planning, keep an eye on the forecast and remember to follow advice only when you’ve assessed the conditions where you live. For example, even if you feel your soil is warming up, you should delay planting frost tender plants unless you’re prepared to protect them with cloches or horticultural fleece when the weather turns cold again.
There’s plenty to be getting on with in the meantime though. Whatever the weather, once March arrives, the signs of spring are there for all to see with spring bulbs on display and new growth visible all around. And if It’s all systems go for the plants, then it needs to be the same for you.
Firstly, your borders will need attention. It’s a great time to tackle established and new weeds whilst you can reach them easily, and to cut back any old growth you may have left on perennials. Lift and divide congested clumps, composting older sections of plants and replanting the younger ones or giving them away.
If you want to add something new, you could consider Fritillaria meleagris (snake’s head fritillary), an easy to grow, bulbous perennial which seems happy in sun or shade. With its eye-catching snakeskin-like flowers, it makes a striking addition to the spring garden. As always, once you’ve finished working on your beds and borders, a good mulch of organic matter applied to the soil will help keep weeds down and moisture in.
Prune shrub and bush roses in late March, reducing the stems by at least a third, cutting above a strong growing, outward-facing bud. If you have plants in patio pots, you should top dress the containers with fresh compost.
It’s a good time to tidy up your greenhouse and wash it with a very weak bleach solution, keeping it clean and letting in increased light. If you mow your grass, keep the blades high at first, lowering them after the first few cuts.
Thinking ahead, how about planting some summer bulbs? Lilies are great planted in containers and moved to a warm, sunny site where you can enjoy them, when shoots appear. Dahlias can also be started indoors, to give them a head start and ensure they reward you with fabulous blooms later in the year.