March Gardening Chores

It’s the first of March already and spring is definitely in the air over here in the Netherlands. As I sit at my desk now I can hear birds chirping away and getting busy collecting food and flirting with each other again… preparing for mating and hectic times ahead.

Talking about hectic times ahead… March is just the month in which you have to really start getting out into the garden and de-winter it.

I generally stick to the rule here to not do any drastic pruning and planting until after the 11th March. The all fear of sudden frost attack has disappeared.

It’s a brilliant time of the year to get out into the garden again and take in the aroma of a new spring with new life vibrating all over the place….

So go get out there and take a stroll through your garden or even balcony and make a to do list and use the one below to and pick the chores that fit your place.

Have fun:

Here are my March Gardening tips for to do’s:

■ Continue planting new trees,
hedges, climbers and roses.

■ Place orders for summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, canna and eucomis.

■ Sow peas, broad beans, parsnips and carrots.

■ Continue planting lily

■ Order onion sets, shallots and seed potatoes.

■ Cut back hedges before birds start to nest.

■ Prune large-flowered clematis.

■ Start to prune roses, removing dead, damaged or diseased stems.

■ Sow sweet peas.

■ Plant winter aconites and snowdrops ‘in the green’.

■ Keep off the grass during frosty weather.

■ Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries back to ground level.

■ Prune fruit trees, removing dead, damaged or diseased branches.

■ Keep feeding the birds.

■ Divide large clumps of hostas before their leaves start to grow. Dig the
clump up, then use a spade to slice your clump into several sections,
replanting them at their original level.

■ With so much fresh, tender growth around, slugs and snails are in their
element. Deal with them now before your plants disappear before your eyes.

■ Before your garden begins to break into growth, take a last look at its
winter profile. Now is the perfect time to add plants with winter interest,
such as berries or bark, for next year.

■ Get your plant supports in before your perennials start to grow, this way
your supports will be covered before your plants are performing at full tilt.

■ Plant lilies to fill in any border gaps, or in pots.

■ Feed all your fruit trees, canes and bushes with a sprinkling of sulphate of

■ Cover rhubarb with forcing buckets or jars to encourage long, tender stalks.

■ Prune back the stems of dogwoods, willows and buddleias to produce fresh new

■ Plant new hedges.

■ Feed hedges, trees and shrubs with a general-purpose fertiliser, then mulch
around their bases.

■ Rejuvenate congested
perennial herbs by dividing the clumps and replanting

■ Dig up parsnips and leeks and heel in until used to allow beds to be

■ Prepare seed beds in fine dry weather and cover with fleece to warm up

■ Clean out water butts: a bit of charcoal in the bottom will keep the water

■ Trim and tidy evergreen grasses and cut deciduous grass back to ground level
before growth starts

■ Prick out seedlings before true leaves develop

■ Sow tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from seed in a heated propagator.

■ Dig in over-wintered green manures in preparation for planting in a couple of

■ Plant potatoes under polythene for an early crop.

■ Start successional sowing of root and leaf vegetables.

■ Prepare the bed in the greenhouse for planting out tomatoes in April.

■ Cut back hardy fuchsias, lavatera, cotinus and Buddleja davidii to between
75cm and 1m.

■ Prune winter jasmine after flowering

■ Sow cut-and-come-again salads in pots under cover to protect them from the

■ Plant out rooted strawberry runners, removing most of the flowers – a heavy
crop in the first year will weaken the plant.

■ Sprout dahlia tubers in warmth for dividing.

■ Sow hardy annual flowers.

■ Plant gladiolus corms in well-drained soil.

Happy Gardening, Love C

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February Gardening Chores

The month of February is also the month of love and Valentine’s day… so I thought this picture on the left would do nicely!!!

Unbelievable…. We have had a dusting of snow here in the Netherlands and the temperature has dropped into freezing figures. Hopefully we will still be able to get our skates out and have a week of skating fun. Most Dutch people can skate really well and will venture out with the whole family at the weekends. Tennis courts get flooded and organizers get really very excited about preparing the ice rinks. Volunteers set up stalls to supply the hungry and thirsty, offering a whole range of food and drinks such as hot chocolate with whipped cream, Gluhwein(mulled wine), strong coffee with some kind of alcoholic shot in it, to make you brave the ice,  home made apple cake  and good old traditional thick pea soup. Music is   blasting from loudspeakers to satisfy the younger generation….. always turns into a wonderful party!!!!

 Garden wise it is then best to do as little as possible even though it has been rather tempting to get out with bucket and spade! That is why I leave mine untouched until the end of March actually… the main reason being,  I only have a flower garden and am not into growing vegetables yet. For the vegetable gardeners amongst us there will be plenty of odd jobs to get started on: preparing the veggie plots for seeding, growing and harvesting. I do try to add some useful tips for you on this topic.

Best advice is to do as little as possible and really wait until mid March before getting stuck in again… instead buy some good garden magazines to tickle yourself with, or even venture out to a local ice rink and get cracking on your skating skills!!!

Most important job to do immediately if you have frost in your area is to cover all the plants outside standing in pots!!! With thick bubble wrap… leaving open space at the tops so air can get in!!! and fingers crossed they survive. And give the birds some extra food this month.

Now for the true die hards!
■ Protect shrubs from snow damage by shaking it off the plants and shoring them up with soil around the stems.
■ Choose a warmer day to hoe beds, to clear any weeds and break up the soil’s surface.
■ Have a go at sowing annual seeds such as pansies, antirrhinum and impatiens in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Viola ‘Allspice Mixed’ is  very fragrant.
■ Prune your roses. Be brave: roses are hardy and can withstand a good haircut! Cut stems back by half to two-thirds. Climbers should be cut back to a framework and stems that have flowered cut out from ramblers. This should give you better blooms and tidier bushes.
■ Take care of indoor plants. If you notice the roots are beginning to come through the base, repot the plant in a slightly larger planter for a fresh new look. If not, just top up the container with compost to refresh it. 

Dig in over-wintered green manures ready for sowing and planting
■ Prune weak growth from early summer-flowering clematis and cut late-flowering clematis back to 15-30cm from the ground
■ Clear and mulch round the base of fruit trees
■ Sprout potato tubers by setting them out in egg boxes in a cool but
frost-free position in good light
■ Put cloches over strawberries to encourage early fruiting. Ventilate on warm, sunny days to allow insects to pollinate the flowers.
■ Tuck straw around rhubarb crowns and cover with a forcing jar for early stems.
■ In fine weather continue to dig over the vegetable garden, adding compost or manure where required.
■ Sow cauliflower and summer cabbage seeds.
■ Cut autumn-fruiting raspberries back to ground level.
■ The first February after planting, all types of clematis should be pruned back to the lowest one or two buds on each stem. This will encourage the young plant to produce plenty of bushy growth.
■ Cut back ivy on walls before birds start nesting. Be ruthless – it will look better for a hard pruning.
■ Pruning of apples, pears, currants and gooseberries should be completed by the end of February. Cut away and burn all dead, damaged and diseased wood.
■ Do the final pruning of wisteria, cutting back laterals and side shoots to within two or three buds of the main stem. Wear gloves and protect  your face – there are thorn-like protrusions on the new growth.
■ The brightly coloured stems of salix and cornus should be cut back to between 5-15cm from the ground to ensure more colourful stems next year.
■ Plant hardy climbers 50cm away from the wall if soil is not waterlogged.
■ In dry weather, plant lily bulbs in well-drained soil enriched with rotted organic matter, in a sunny spot ideally shaded by plants such as rosemary or lavender. If lily beetle is a problem in your area, plant bulbs in pots and keep them undercover.
■ Sow parsley in mild weather.
■ Check plant supports and do any repairs before plants start growing.


Wishing you all a happy snug final wintry valentine’s month…. C

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Blooming Flower Chat: Snowdrops

The Galanthus, better know as the famous snowdrop is such a delicate and pretty little flower… giving us such joy and signs of new life ahead! They brighten up even the most murky of days during our winter… and this year too they are already popping out their sleepy heads thrilling us with their sight!

Galanthus comes from the Greek words Gala, meaning milk and Anthus meaning Flower!!! Milky flower… I prefer snowdrop… as they are the only flowers to bloom in winter together with the Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) and Helleborus (Lenten Rose) …. after the snowdrops appear it’s the bright and colourful crocus which then take the scene…. bringing us still closer to the arrival of spring. My all time favourite season!

So go out there and do some snowdrop spotting!

photo’s by: judy’s snowdrops

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