Whether you are a veteran gardener or a complete novice but a "wanna be", March gets the blood flowing through your veins. March is the first of the 3 most glorious months of the year as a gardener. Get busy, do some planning, scout the nurseries for plants to use in the garden, but first get the cleanup chores out of the way while you wait for the last freeze date to arrive.

Top things to do in March

  • Late February and early March is the optimal time to perform most Spring Clean up and pruning tasks - do this now and you won't prune off beautiful new growth - if you procrastinate you will.
  • Don't be afraid to prune...but please avoid the hedge / lollipop effect - use hand pruners and selectively prune your shrubs to keep them at just the right size and tight.
  • Prune your roses in early March - apply a systemic feed / insecticide at the base of the bushes
  • Prune and edit trees
  • Prune / cut back evergreens which need to be maintained - hollies and yew - but please don't use electric shears - try to avoid pruning if at all possible - if the right plant is in the right spot it should need only minimal pruning...try to avoid the "lollipop" effect as this will require a lifetime of difficult maintenance.
  • Do Not prune the tops of your tree form crepe myrtles
  • I have seen so many examples of bad pruning, resulting in many beautiful shrubs being more or less ruined. It can be very difficult for shrubs to come out of the shock of the hedge effect.

March Garden Tips
Garden Tips for March

...please don't do this to your Yaupon Holly!

How to care for Holly'

Yaupon Holly Tree - left un-pruned - more beautiful less maintenance!

Maintain your garden in march

These roses are "dying" to be secured to the wall behind them - sad to see them laying on the ground.

  • Feed cool season grasses like fescue and rye with fertilizer and for extra dark green grass I like to add an application of ironite.
  • Bring the pansies you planted last fall back to life after our long icy winter by removing the dead foliage and then a boost with water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Grow.
  • If you are like most gardeners, you can't resist strolling through the nurseries looking for old favorites and new varieties alike Always fun to see the new Proven Winner selections, I like to incorporate these into containers because it's an easy and safe way to try them out.
  • In Oklahoma, our last freeze date is mid-April - so before that only hardy plants get planted but after April 15, you should be safe to plant tender annuals and vegetables for your summer garden.
  • Spring plantings of perennials, annuals, rose bushes, shrubs and trees is in full force.
  • Secure climbing roses and vines - they will grow twice as fast - don't let them languish on the ground or flop around in the wind.
  • Take photos to remember color combinations of pansies and tulips for the upcoming fall when it's time to plant them again.

Best of the Season

  • Green fescue and rye blends of grass looking lush and dark green
  • Pansies, Tulips in full display
  • Flowering trees like crab, redbud, whitebud
  • Flowering shrubs like forsythia, snowball, viburnum are just coming on
  • Spring Perennials - creeping phlox, dianthus, candytuft

Care and Feeding for your Garden during March

Mix of white tulips with shades of violet pansies and white for the tie in

How to maintain your garden in march

Giant Darwin Tulips - Pink and Apricot Impression with a blue mix of pansies

Tulip care in march

Beautiful orange and yellow mix of tulips with blue and white pansies - this bed would look less vibrant without the Goldmound spireas.

Tulip care in march

Warm colors of citrus

Garden Care

Icy blues and whites

Spring Garden Care

Gorgeous combinations of yellow, blue and white pansies, with citrus mix of tulips and gold moneywort looking luscious!

Spring Gardening Tips

As I approached this planting of blue and white hyacinth the fragrance was intoxicating!

How to care for your garden in the spring

Very rare to see forsythia that has not been pruned / mutilated...wonder if this will be left alone 5 years from now - we can hope so!

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

  • Keep it Simple by sticking to one garden style – don’t overdo it
  • Blend Hard Landscaping with your home – select materials that blend with your house. Choose colors carefully, and ideally, use the same materials as those used in the house or that are sympathetic to its age and character. I always say landscaping is nothing without great hardscaping.
  • Clean Lines Work Best – in most cases, suburban yards nearly always benefit from clean lines and layout based on geometry, rather than curves.
  • Anchor the garden with a focal point – arbors, trellises, benches, fountains, pools or structures help anchor the garden
  • Choose wider flower beds
  • Choose the right plant for the right spot – understand the plant habit – right size is key
  • Hide your fences with screening plants or climbers – small spaces appear larger with a greater sense of privacy
  • Big Plants in Small Spaces - One of the quickest ways to clutter up a small space is to use lots of small plants - the result feels busy, and overly energetic.
  • Color planning is critical – see my separate blog on Understanding Color.

Garden Plantings – Create a Tapestry

  • Color and texture are key
  • Design using plantings in mass – this applies to shrubs, perennials, annuals and groundcovers.
  • Large masses of a small number of different plants will provide greater color impact than small bunches of a great variety of different shrubs or flowers.
  • Gardens are often more spectacular when the masses are planted in drifts. This is where one large grouping of plants meshes with other groupings in the same bed.
  • Notice what is behind the flowers. A shrub background or structure can stop the eye and cause people to focus on the flowers.
  • Stair step the plant heights. Place the tallest plants in the back of the border and the shortest in front.

Garden Tips

I always try and weave all of the plants together – just like this.

Excellent shrub varieties providing color and texture…

  • Yew
  • Boxwood
  • Helmond Pillar Barberry (Crimson)
  • Goldmound Spirea (Gold)
  • Indian Hawthorne
  • Globosa Blue Spruce (Blue / Gray)
  • Nandina – especially dwarf varieties
  • Miniature and tree form Crepe Myrtle

Look at how these plants form interest through color and texture – these are beautiful in any landscape. I use these as my “go to” list in many garden designs.

Perennial Tips

Perennials for every garden

  • Purple Cone Flower
  • Scabiosa - pincushion flower
  • Salvia "May Night"
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Huechera
  • Rudbeckia
  • Nepata "Walker's Low"
  • Penstemmon
  • Dianthus

3 ways to be a better gardener

Landscape Roses – room in every garden…they bloom all summer…

  • Apple Blossom
  • White Carpet
  • Livin' Easy
  • Double Knock-out

...and always plant with Nepata 'Walkers Low' as companion

Lanscape Roses

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

Believe it or not, February is in my opinion the most important month in the garden. You are probably asking yourself how could that be - it is so cold outside? Timing is so critical with so many garden chores - get the timing right and the results will be optimal - miss the timing on certain chores and the outcome can really be dismal. Pruning is probably the most important chore to be done between the middle of February and early March. I always tell my gardening buddies and garden clubs - mark your calendar on Valentine's Day with the following garden tasks...if you do them you will be rewarded for months and your plants will be happy campers.

Top Things to do in February

  • Prune to keep your plants tight but still natural - avoid hedges and the lollipop look - see my blog in March for examples of what not to do!
  • Prune evergreens - Hollies, Yew, Yaupon, Boxwood, Laurel
  • Prune roses - shrub roses should be severely pruned - but climbing roses should be pruned just to be kept in the space you want them in.
  • Apply systemic food and herbicide to bases of roses.
  • Secure climbing rose canes - they will thrive when kept upright (I use copper plumbing tubing).
  • Apply Ironite to cool season grasses - they will be emerald green in March.
  • Prune deciduous trees - this is a great time to see the bones of the tree...get suckers and limbs interfering with other limbs out of there.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses - liriope, mondo, and the taller varieties like pampas and fountain grass. Cutting these back in March means cutting back fresh spring growth.
  • Begin cutting back perennials - finalize this in early March.
  • Begin garden cleanup in flower beds.
  • Apply a dose of food to pansies and spring flowering perennials like candy tuft, dianthus, and creeping phlox - they will really benefit after the winter months.
  • Order bare root roses from rose sources like Antique Rose Emporium, David Austin Roses, and Heirloom Roses
  • Look at your garden design - next month is a great time to tweak or modify it.
  • Clean your garden tools.
  • Enjoy the hint of warmer days to come.

Best of the Season

How to maintain your garden in february

Crocus and Daffodils

February Garden Tips

Forsythia - un-pruned and naturalized the way it should be

Top things to do for your garden in February

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

A few thoughts on the most basic fundamentals of gardening and the importance of good garden design

  • You cannot control the weather or Mother Nature – but you do need to watch the weather; react to the weather and the forces and impact of good old Mother Nature.
  • The best advice I can give anyone wanting to improve their gardening skills is to pay attention to the things going on in your garden – because things are definitely going on.
  • Have a master plan – you have heard this many times – but really without it it’s like you’re on a road and have no idea where you are going.
  • The dirt or soil that you put your plants into is almost more important than the plant itself….a simple rule of thumb – put a $5 plant in a $10 hole!
  • Choose the right plant for the right spot - don’t be an impulsive buyer…it’s okay to be a plantaholic or hoarder (like me), but the plants need to fit into your garden design.
  • I have a rule that when I bring home new plants can an old non-specimen plant go out….better to have the “good stuff’.
  • Patience is important – don’t be tempted to purchase plants that grow fast…in the long run after a few years you will probably be removing them from your landscape.
  • Trial & Error” needs to be alive and well in the garden – this applies to color, texture, plants that you may be unfamiliar with. Remember plants can be moved. I have a friend, who is known to move hostas from one part of her garden to another all of the time. I think one hosta has been moved at least 5 times!

And the very best thing of all to keep in mind is that there is always the next season to look forward to….so you can…

  • Correct the mistakes you may have made
  • Alter your color combinations
  • Edit your plants / move them around or out of your garden
  • Review your overall design to see if it is working for you
  • Look for ways to improve your planting schemes - you are never done tweaking the garden to get it just right…

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -

I love January, December is gone - and with it all of that activity, work, and stress as we all strive to make the holidays special.

January is one of the months as a gardener that you can literally do nothing and not feel guilty about it. Of course you have to pay a little attention to water if Mother Nature doesn't smile on us with rain or snow. But other than that, we can just relax and enjoy the cold days with a hot cup of tea and some shortbread.

The garden and seed catalogs will begin arriving in your mailbox, as well as other garden and outdoor living catalogs. It's fun to see what's new with the trends in these. Wayside Gardens will tempt us with new species and varieties. We can just file these away for now - enjoy this quiet month.

Top Things to do in January

  • As little as possible - you deserve a guilt-free break
  • Best of the Season

Red Twig Dogwood

How to take care of your garden in january

Deciduous Hollies laden with berries

January Gardening Tips

Cardinals eating berries

What to do in January for your garden

Ice Storm - breathtaking beauty!

January ice storms and your garden

Happy Gardening -

All My Best -