3 - 01 - 2010
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.
...please don't do this to your Yaupon Holly!
Yaupon Holly Tree - left un-pruned - more beautiful less maintenance!
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
Mix of white tulips with shades of violet pansies and white for the tie in
Giant Darwin Tulips - Pink and Apricot Impression with a blue mix of pansies
Beautiful orange and yellow mix of tulips with blue and white pansies - this bed would look less vibrant without the Goldmound spireas.
Warm colors of citrus
Icy blues and whites
Gorgeous combinations of yellow, blue and white pansies, with citrus mix of tulips and gold moneywort looking luscious!
As I approached this planting of blue and white hyacinth the fragrance was intoxicating!
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.
I always try and weave all of the plants together – just like this.
Excellent shrub varieties providing color and texture…
- 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.
Perennials for every garden
- Purple Cone Flower
- Scabiosa - pincushion flower
- Salvia "May Night"
- Creeping Phlox
- Nepata "Walker's Low"
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
Happy Gardening -
All My Best -