The Irish spring is finally here, well at least today. The sun is warming up the soil nicely, which is very important for us to be able to plant the first potatoes in a couple of days. Saying that, there is another cold front on its way so it is still too early to move tender plants outside from their cosy winter home.
Last week’s National Tree Planting Week went very well here in Kylemore. We invited all four local National Schools and also our local Crèche. The pre-schoolers put on a brave face when planting in the midst of a hail storm and were very happy when enjoying their well-deserved homemade rice crispy bun in Mitchell’s Café.
We planted all Irish native trees like Mountain Ash, Sessile Oak, Beech and Elm. All children will receive a tree planting certificate from us and every tree is labelled so the children can identify the trees when coming back to us. These are very important first steps to reforest Kylemore.
The first flush of spring colour is nearly gone, especially after yesterday’s storm. The very delicate Crocus ‘King of Striped’ is brightening up the path up to the Vinery once again; also the first Tulips are starting to flower.
One of the earliest flowering spring bedding plants would be the Hyacinth. We have two varieties in our spring bedding scheme planted this year. Hyacinth ‘Ann Mary’, a strong pink flowering variety, just opened up last week. The strong scented bulbs can also be forced for indoor use but you need to be prepared to experience a nearly overwhelming fragrance, too much for my taste. Hyacinth bulbs are very expensive, we keep ours for a couple of years and replant them in different spots every year.
We had to take out our Santolina or Cotton Lavender a couple of weeks ago. The plants were about 15 years old and got too woody. The bed, situated in the Parterre, needs to be dug over and top dressed with new organic matter. The new plants are waiting to be planted; they are a perfect size at the moment. We normally don’t let the Santolina go to flower and we prune them back each year. The greyish leaves look very decorative, especially when planted as a border to frame beds and paths. The plant likes dry and sunny conditions, so if you want to plant any make sure the spot is not water logged or shady.
The clock is ticking and it is only a couple of weeks until the Easter Bunny comes back to Kylemore. I hope we will experience last year’s gorgeous weather again, or will it be rather a ‘Snow Bunny Hunt’?
Below are few more tips for your garden in March.
Your Head Gardener
Things you can do in your garden in March
To Sow / Propagate:
~ Sow first potatoes when soil is warm enough, use Seaweed dust as fertilizer, make sure you rotate on a four year rotation system
~ Move seedlings of Broad beans, Lettuce or Kale into cold frames to be hardened off
~ Continue sowing summer bedding plants and pot on when big enough
~ First sowing of green manure into prepard plots like Phacelia or Mustard
~ Take cuttings of non-flowering shoots of Pelargonium or Fuchsia
~ Last chance to plant bare- rooted trees (Much cheaper than potted trees!)
~ Sow/plant Onions, Shallots and Spring Onion directly into prepared beds
~ Divide, plant or transplant perennials in borders
~ Divide & replant chives (also great in borders and good for black flies on roses)
To maintain & prune & feed:
~ Cut back Willow hard for later use as supports, baskets etc.; grade and store in cool place
~ Last chance to prune Gooseberries, could be trained like cordons or fans along wires
~ Feed all fruit trees and bushes with potash
~ Feed herbaceous borders with soil improver like chicken pellets
~ Feed Spring Cabbages with Seaweed powder