Garden Blog | March 2018
With ‘The Beast from The East’ thankfully departed, we can only hope that the worst of winter is behind us. It is March after all!
Pruning your Plants
In the garden, there is plenty to keep our Gardeners busy as days begin to lengthen. There are a number of shrubs and herbaceous plants that benefit from pruning at this time of year. Coloured stemmed Cornus (dogwood); Salix (willow); and Rubus cockburnianus, with its prickly, powdery, purple stems; have been a delight throughout winter, bringing a lovely splash of colour to even the gloomiest of days. However, to maintain this wonderful display, it is essential to prune properly. Cutting stems back to a couple of inches from their base may seem brutal, but will result in a fresh crop of brightly coloured stems to enjoy next winter. If these shrubs are not pruned, they will become overly large and scruffy. The prized bright colours will also become duller and duller with time. Best get out those secateurs!
Another shrub that benefits from the same treatment, though for a different reason, is Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush). Flowering in late summer, Buddlejas are a magnet for butterflies and moths. The orange-eyed flowers in shades from white, pink, red, purple, and blue, are honey-scented and full of nectar. Although this plant originates from China, it is perfectly suited to attracting our native butterflies. As buddlejas flower on the end of this year’s growth, pruning in spring will produce a mass of strong stems, topped by extra-large panicles of flowers later this year.
Looking after Penstemon
From shrubs to herbaceous plants, and specifically Penstemon. These semi-evergreen plants are not entirely hardy in this part of the country, and to help their chances of coming safely through the winter months, it is advisable to leave last year’s growth in place when other herbaceous perennials are being cut back in autumn. This will give a little extra frost and snow protection. At this time of year, as new growth begins to emerge at the base of the Penstemon, last year’s growth can be cut right back to near ground level.
The other great task right now for our Gardeners is lifting and dividing snowdrops, to give an even better display next year. For full details of how to carry out this timely task, click on the heading above. This year’s Snowdrop Sundays were a great success, aided by lovely weather, especially on the second Sunday. Next year’s display will be better still as we augment the named collection and expand the coverage of wild snowdrops.
With a multitude of spring flowering favourites bursting forth, it is a real treat to get outdoors and take in the sights and sounds on offer. We’ll be back next month with more garden tasks.