Gardener’s Corner: March 2024

Gardener’s Corner: March 2024

February was extremely mild and extremely wet, and as a result, we have recorded one of the earliest natural springs on record. Here in Somerset, March has become a reliably mild spring month over the last 25 years. I hope that is the case this year so that we can thoroughly enjoy the emerging Magnolias and spring bulbs!

March is a fantastic month in the garden because you can enjoy all the winter interest but also all the emerging bulbs and blossom. Our winter borders are still packed with colour, from the unusual Edgeworthias to brightly coloured dogwoods and highly scented Daphnes. The Hellebores are having a bumper year, particularly the ‘Harvington Red’ and ‘White Lady’ cultivars, which are excellent. Our Magnolias will also peak this month; the Magnolia at the front of the Palace is particularly stunning. The rampart bank is a carpet of Primroses that have seeded and spread over the last 20 years; this is because we only strim and clear the area once every autumn. Several thousand daffodils fill the moat banks and arboretum and are a welcome splash of colour. Because it has been a mild winter and as I suspect March will also be mild, tulips, fritillaries, bluebells, and white Narcissus will also fill the Quiet Garden by the end of the month. Tulip ‘Little Beauty’ is a bright, stronger pink with blue eyes that works very well under the birch trees. ‘Red Shine’ is my favourite and is unbeatable on a bright sunny day but regularly needs replacing, as they only tend to flower for two or three years.

There is lots to do during March, and some of the most important tasks are feeding and mulching the borders. We use both mushroom compost and our own garden compost. Fertilizers like fish, blood, and bone on the roses and shrubs and a general grow-more for most other borders. We will finish cutting any unfinished hedges and plant up new borders. Because we have had recent trouble growing tulips in the Colour Garden and as a change to the annuals, this year, our Community Gardener, Jo, has sourced a lovely native wildflower mix for that area. We will plant tulips again next autumn and bright annuals in 2025. Tulips can be very particular, and within borders, it is sometimes necessary to replace the soil. In the Community Garden, Jo and our amazing volunteers will be busy sowing lots of flowers and vegetables and starting to prepare all the borders for planting. Hopefully, we will have another bountiful harvest of vegetables and flowers this summer, some of which will find their way to the café and shop.

We look forward to welcoming you to the gardens this March.

James Cross, Head Gardener

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