Spring is undoubtedly my favourite time of year in the garden with everything starting into life and the promise of so much more to come. There has been a multitude of plants in flower this month as well as some unseasonably warm weather. It has been difficult knowing what not to include, so this month there are some very personal choices and as always lots of photo’s to enjoy and to inspire you!
March in the Garden
There’s no question that March is ‘bulb month’ with swathes of Daffodils, Hyacinths, Scilla, Chinodoxa, Wood Anemones, Fritillaria and just this last week I’ve spotted a few Tulips opening. I am still recovering from an injury so haven’t been able to garden as much as I would have like but I have managed to get out and about and enjoy the plants that are looking good in March.
Flowers in March
I love the simple beauty of Primula vulgaris (Primrose) and Vinca (Periwinkle). I don’t think you can beat a group of Primroses in full flower and this month you will find them growing everywhere. Interestingly the Primulaceae family will cross-pollinate and self-seed very easily so if you grow a range of Primula species you could end up with some interesting new colours and forms!
Vinca, in my opinion, is a genus of plants that are often overlooked. They are so versatile growing in all soils and conditions; make excellent ground cover, come in a lovely range of colours and forms and on top of that will tolerate shade, what more could you ask for in a plant!
Another under rated plant is Pulmonaria (Lungwort), particularly useful as it provides an early source of nectar and pollen for bees. There’s lots of species and cultivars so it is well worth growing a few in your garden, the bees will certainly appreciate it!
The wonderful spotted leaves of Pulmonaria officinalis are what gave rise to its common name of Lungwort. It was considered that the leaves symbolised diseased lungs and were therefore used to treat lung infections. If you are interested in herbalism you might want to read more on this subject so I have included a link to a site that explains more about this – Doctrine of Signatures
I believe that plants and gardens can evoke a very special and personal link to people, places or a particular time in your life and for me one such plant is Bergenia (Elephants Ears). Seeing them always takes me back to my childhood home where there was always a big clump of them growing in the garden. I love their big fleshy leaves and whilst it might not be one of the most fashionable plants, a massed planting of Bergenia with their pink flowers and bold rounded leaves does look great. In addition if you pick a cultivar like Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ you get fantastic winter foliage colour too and Bergenia are very undemanding plants to grow.
When I design a new border or bed one of my first considerations is soil type, closely followed by aspect. My advice to clients is always to grow plants suitable for the soil they have; rather than trying to change the conditions to suit a particular plant. So, for anyone with an acid soil here are two plants looking good in March – Erica (Heather) and Pieris. Erica species provide another source of early food for bees and along with Pieris species can be used to provide a bright splash of colour in the garden as well as evergreen interest.
Scent in March
Continuing the theme of plants with a personal connection, for me it can only be Hyacinths. They were my mums favourite so I always like to have a pot or two of them on the patio. She also liked to grow indoor pots of forced hyacinth bulbs to give away to friends as Christmas presents and this is also a tradition that I like to keep up. Their scent may not be for everyone (I love it) but it is the link to my mum that is important.
I was talking about this to one of my clients this month and they said that Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) was the plant that reminded them of their mum and I am sure that this link between plants and people is something lots of people experience. I plan to explore this subject more in a future post so if anyone has a story of a plant or garden that evokes special memories for them I would love to hear from you.
Mahonia species are my second scented choice; an often overlooked shrub. At first glance the Mahonia isn’t the showiest shrub but I think their lovely scented yellow flowers more than make up for that. Furthermore, they are unfussy shrubs that tolerate shade and will provide evergreen interest although do note that they are slow-growing so you will need to be patient! Flowering from winter through to spring (depending on the species and cultivar you select) make sure you check out their scent; but watch out for the spiny leaves!
This month I have largely featured herbaceous plants but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of great shrubs in flower and I have included a selection of some of my favourites below.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my selection of plants and that you feel inspired to try a new plant or combination of plants in your own garden. I always find being out in nature is good for the soul so most importantly of all do take time to enjoy your own garden or nearest green space.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about the plants I have featured or have a plant or garden connection story that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.