Garden Things in March

March can be as frustrating as it is exciting. There are finally some sunshine-filled days where the temperature starts to warm and it creates the undeniable urge to be outside and start futzing with the garden.

I’m learning that the urge to dig around in the dirt has to be resisted: I don’t want to disrupt any hibernating pollinators or put any new seedlings or plants through undue stress and misspend all my efforts. On the calendar, March 21 may be the first day of spring, but the temperatures are temperamental and don’t remain consistently warm enough (above 50 degrees F) until maybe late April thru Memorial Day Weekend. So there’s up to two whole more months to wait until I can break ground.

So until then I try to focus on what I CAN do.

WALKABOUTS

Walkabouts definitely help with visualizing more clearly what I want to do for the year, and this is when they kickoff. Before our Wee Beastie came along, I enjoyed putting on a coat and wellies, and sitting on the front stoop with Sweetpea (our outdoor kitty) and sip on my coffee while it was still quiet before wandering about the yard looking at all the spots that held potential.

Nowadays, those walkabouts take place later in the morning and include a companion. This year our Wee Beastie is bigger and toddling about and its fun seeing what she wants to explore and how she interacts with her surroundings. She was so taken by Mama’s purple wellies, we ordered her own pair.

Wee Beastie’s first walkabout and garden inspection.
May 2020
As soon as we came back inside from our first walkabout this season, she wanted to try on her mama’s wellies.
Beastie is ready to go in her own wellies, just like mama’s. March 2021.

While there are no flowers yet, I’m very excited to see the greenery emerging from the soil or branches! The English Bluebells and Snowdrops are pushing up through the pine needles, the hydrangea is starting to bud at its tips, the alliums are poking up with their spikey leaves, some of them purple-tipped, the bellflower has somehow survived, the Fair Maids of France are just beginning to peek from the soil, and this week I noticed that the Angelique Tulips and French Perfume Hyacinths are beginning to emerge!

STARTING SEEDS INDOORS

Mid-month is the earliest I can start seeds indoors. At the end of last year’s season, I finally purchased an actual seed tray kit with enough jiffy seed-starting pellets to fill each cell, and a hanging light setup. This past week, I ordered a heating mat and assembled everything: the drafting table I’ve had since high school is finally back in use, now reincarnated as a growing table.

This year I plan to try my hand at delphiniums, and I’m going to make another go at the Canterburies, and maybe start another batch of foxgloves so I can hopefully create a second wave of growth to bloom next year. I may also experiment with strawflowers. Other seeds leftover from last year I’m looking to try include Verbena, Lobelia, Sweetpea, and Larkspur, If there’s enough room, I may also try planting a trio of seeds about two weeks apart to see if I can create an extended blooming season.

OUTDOOR DECOR

I feel pretty picky about furniture, so I was pleasantly surprised to spot a 3-piece bisto table set and a bench I thought would be perfect for our yard space, keeping to the theme or atmosphere I want to develop. They’ll be good focal points to build around. It was also really nice to sit outside at the bistro set, flipping through a book on perennials and taking notes in the sunshine for Ostara. And the bench gives me a reason (and a place!) to start spending time in the back yard space, which has been for the most part ignored beyond being used as a dog run since we moved in.

READING & RESEARCH

When am I NOT researching things??? Two books I’m currently fascinated with are:

  • Planting the Natural Garden by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen. I was not sure what to expect from this book until I had it in hand – but it’s a photographic and alphabetical inventory of perennial (read: low maintenance) flowering plants with info on what sun they need, how tall they get, and what months they bloom with concise but helpful descriptions. I became skeptical when I noticed there was nothing to indicate hardiness zones. “Oh no, this book is out of the Netherlands, there’s probably nothing relevant here for me to use...” but then my librarian brain kicked in, “but then how would this book garner such wide appeal if it focused only on their native plants?” I made a list of all the things that caught my eye, and started looking them up: low and behold, out of the 29 plants I wrote down, so far I’ve looked up 20, and ALL of them would be fit in my 6a Zone; in fact, MOST plants have a wide spread of hardiness zones.

    The book also covers ornamental grasses the same way, and a third section of the book covers what plants to combine to create a particular kind of “atmosphere” for a garden. All in all: this is a book worth purchasing. I will be getting my own copy after I return my interlibrary loan copy.
  • Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein and Julie Chai. This book takes all the intimidation out of flower gardening, and helps you figure out how to scale a flower garden to the size space you have. I’ve yet to decide if I want to create a space for systematic growing of cutting flowers, since mostly I just want cut flowers for my own home vs to sell.

Otherwise, I’m doing a lot of research around willow: specifically about the 5 species of cuttings that will be arriving April/May. There’s also wattle weaving techniques, hurdle fences, living fences (or “fedges), pollarding vs coppicing.

I have ideas about what I want to do, or what I think I want to do, but I want to be mindful of potential future impacts: there are certain things about willow root systems and long-term growth that could become problematic on a residential property. I want to learn what I can so whatever I decide to do I can avoid those pitfalls. I’m reaching the point where it would really would be nice to talk to a person with all my questions!

One thought on “Garden Things in March

  1. I’ve started seeds of cool season stuff and I plan to start tomatoes in a couple weeks. I’m trying real hard not to jump the gun, too. 🙂 I love your bench. I like to just sit in my glider and stare into my walnut tree. It’s pretty, even without leaves, and it’s my meditating. 🙂

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