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MarchIn the Garden This Month
March is the month when spring officially begins with the vernal or spring equinox on the twentieth. Days will begin to lengthen after this date and any warm weather will trigger activity by plants and wildlife! However, we still need to beware of cold nights leading to widespread frosts. Any plants protected against winter weather should continue to be so.
In our gardens, Daffodils will be flowering now, their cheerful yellow heads brightening up still bare borders. Those that have been naturalised in grass and under trees will jostle for space as the bulbs increase or sow their seed year after year. The first flowers of the Lenten Roses (Helleborus x hybridus) will begin to emerge this month and continue to produce their nodding blooms for months to come in dry, shady corners. Quiet plants that are often overlooked in the garden, the blooms look great floating in a bowl of water on a table where they can be admired in detail. Many winter shrubs will still be in flower including the shrubby Honeysuckle (Lonicera x fragrantissima) with a sweet scent from the creamy white flowers that crowd on the bare wood and an important source of food for early bees and other insects.
Early trees such as Alder, Elderberry and Horse Chestnut will begin to break their buds during a warm spell and hedges and verges will be full of the cloud like white flowers of Blackthorn (Sloe) towards the end of March.
Keep an eye out for nesting birds as they fly to and from the garden gathering twigs, moss, lichen and even pieces of hanging basket linings for their new abodes. Make a note of where they are building and be sure to leave them undisturbed whilst they rear their young!
On warmer days, insects such as Ladybirds will begin to venture from their hibernation and butterflies that have overwintered will clatter around the garden searching for nectar food plants. Look out for the Brimstone – a bright yellow butterfly and a pollinator of Primroses that will be in flower now. It is possible that the name ‘butterfly’ came from this variety because of the colour of the male’s wings.
Towards the end of the month, many summer migrants will begin to arrive on our shores and you may well see the first Swallows skimming low over fields and roads as they feed on tiny insects.