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    11/03/2016

    Spring is here. Tidy up your garden!

    There may be snow at one end of the country and another of those 'man' storms the other making the weather highly unpredictable this month - but if there's one thing we gardeners can all rely on it's the fact that Spring is about to.. well.. spring itself on us.

    This is the month when it's time to dig out the secatuers, the dibber and the garden fork and start 'opening up' the various parts of the garden that have been resting or dormant over a winter that will soon be a fading memory. The clocks will change, the birds will nest and we'll be opening our front doors to welcome the outdoor spaces in our lives back in which all adds up to a whole lot of outdoor housekeeping and preparatory work.

    Let's start with the big tidy up. Now is the time to cut back the last of the dead stems dangling from any perennials, which you've kindly left in place for the wildlife and now is also the time to mulch your flower borders. If you're lucky enough to get one of those early Spring days when the sun is out and you can sense the ground warming beneath your feet then get out and ventilate your greenhouse or conservatory.

    We're not the only creatures that love the return of Spring - so do those pesky pests we share our gardens with so you will have to take steps now to manage slug and other insect infestations when you come across them.

    In the veg plot, it's time to sow early potatoes and shallots. In the flower borders, get out there and lift and divide perennials and sow some of your summer bulbs. You should also be sowing your hardy annuals this month, including sweet peas (is there a better scent on the planet? I don't think so) which can now be sown outside, geraniums and, if you like their showstopper blousy-ness, Oriental poppies. Summer bedding plants still need the protection of the cleaned up greenhouse or under propagation pots because frost damage is still a risk this month.

    March in the garden is the time when you can really let your imagination fly...and start dreaming of the garden you want to be sitting in, sipping an evening cocktail as the sun goes down throughout the summer and hopefully, well into those hazy Autumn evenings. Think about updating features like furniture which may have seen better days and introducing some new fun elements such as a fire pit or water feature and imagine yourself enjoying these new embellishments as the gardening year really starts to unfold for us.

    Most of us were slightly taken aback by the early flowering or daffodils this year and it's likely most of yours will now be well and truly over so make sure you deadhead the flowers as they fade but allow the foliage to die back naturally. You can also spend several happy weekend hours pottering around your garden deadheading any winter-flowering pansies and other winter bedding plants that you have used to plug the colour 'gaps' until now - pansies, for example, will actually carry on flowering into early summer if you look after them so that's another little March job that will pay dividends through the upcoming gardening year.

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