Mothering Sunday (11th March) is the ‘unofficial’ start of the gardening season, and the more frequent sunny days provide a chance to get into the garden and get set for spring. Don’t get carried away, frosts and winds are still frequent, keep overwintered tender plants wrapped up warm.
I’m sure most of us would prefer to have more wildlife in our gardens, and feel as though we are doing our best to give nature a helping hand. We all know that leaving an area of our gardens untouched creates a safe area away from human influences, or that an undisturbed pile of logs makes an excellent hideaway for insects which in its turn attracts birds and mammals. However most gardeners prefer an orderly garden and small gardens often do not have enough space but with some clever choices you can still give nature a hand.
Here are some key tips:
► Grow a range of plants for year round flowering to improve the diversity of visitors to your garden
► Avoid plants with double or multi-petalled flowers
► Never use pesticides on plants in flower
► Trees, hedges and climbing plants not only give birds somewhere to nest but can also provide essential cover and join up green spaces for small mammals
► Night-scented plants are great for moths which in turn are a feast for bats
► Water is essential for amphibians and birds
Suitable Plants: Choosing plants can be difficult, and there is some debate between experts as to whether native species and wildflowers are more attractive to wildlife than garden cultivars. The good news is when it comes to attracting pollinating insects there are no prizes for being shy and retiring, the biggest and best floral displays gets the most visitors. When visiting the garden centre look for plants that have the RHS “Perfect for Pollinators” logo on the label. Here are a few of my favourites:
• Scabious – It flowers for months, right through the summer, and has high-quality nectar for butterflies and bees. Perfect for growing on chalky soils. Finches love its seed.
• Foxgloves – Although poisonous to us and our pets these cottage garden favorites are also loved by bees.
• Honeysuckle – This climber buzzes with visitors in the summer months, attracting nectar-loving insects including the hummingbird hawk moth. Thrushes enjoy the berries.
• Thyme – This herb provides excellent ground cover in gravel gardens, creating safe spaces for beetles and other invertebrates. Its nectar is also a favorite of bees.
• Weigela – Attractive to bees and butterflies and easy to care for shrub, simply prune back hard after flowering and feed with a rose fertiliser to boost flowering.
Top Tips For March:
• Protect newly emerging shoots from slugs and snails
• Use a mower set on a high blade setting to give the lawn a trim, later in the month sow grass seed in any bare patches of the lawn.
• Sprinkle a general purpose fertiliser in borders around shrubs and perennials.
• Prune winter flowering shrubs such as mahonia, heathers, and winter jasmine as soon as flowering has ended.
Whatever March brings, I hope you are all able to enjoy some time outside in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk