Garden Blog | March
This morning, as I write the garden blog for March, we have been treated to a humdinger of a hail storm, followed by sunny skies, and distant dark menacing clouds. That’s spring for you, I guess…
Springtime in the garden is a time of hope and rebirth, as a multitude of flowering plants fill the senses with brilliant colour and scent. After the long nights of winter, there can be no greater joy than the emergence of nature from hibernation.
One of my favourite shrubs flowering right now in our garden is the richly scented Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’. This small shrub is native to China, later spreading to Japan and Korea, where it is known as “churihyang” meaning a thousand mile scent…for very good reasons. This lovely shrub grows best in fertile, slightly acid, peaty, well-drained soils, in either full sun or partial shade.
Another far eastern favourite is Stachyurus praecox, a native of Japan. This large, spreading, deciduous shrub, easily growing to 12ft x12ft, is at this time of year smothered in pendent, bell shaped, primrose yellow flowers, on naked arching branches. During the summer it has to be said that the shrub is rather non-descript, but comes into its own again in autumn, when its leaves turn butter yellow, sunset orange, blushing pink, and vivid scarlet. Stachyurus praecox is, for some unfathomable reason, rare in cultivation…so rare that it doesn’t even have a ‘common’ name.
Hyacinths are always such a cheery sight in the garden in March, with their lovely stout flowers in a kaleidoscope of colours, and heady scent. The number on display in the grounds here at Deene Park gets greater year on year, as we plant out bulbs that have been used indoors earlier in the season to live out the rest of their lives outdoors. Last autumn we potted up ‘prepared’ bulbs that went on to flower indoors around Christmas and New Year. Once they had finished their stint indoors, we simply took them away to be housed in a frost free, brightly lit space, and kept them watered. Now that our garden hyacinths are in flower, and we can see exactly which colours are where, we can plant out the new hyacinths into their permanent position, and enjoy them for many years to come.
Finally, a little timely task…prune penstemons. Having left our penstemons unpruned, allowing the foliage from last year to protect this slightly tender species from damage over winter, it’s now time to get snipping. With strong new shoots now emerging from low down, it’s time to remove last year’s growth to within a couple of inches of ground level, resulting in a mass of flowers to enjoy on new growth later in the year.
(Written by Andrew Jones, Head Gardener)