March is when spring comes to life with unstoppable new growth, usually offset with gales and frost to damage new shoots but there is always colour or scent to enjoy.
March is the best month for daffodils with some many varieties to choose from. I enjoy visiting Dunham Massey winter gardens to see many varieties en masse and took this photo of Narcissus Jenny with larger yellow daffodils behind them. Daffodils are good under deciduous trees or in full sun.
Another more unusual bulb out in March is the Erythronium or Dog’s Tooth Violet. More fussy than daffodils, they like light shade and the moisture retentive yet well drained soil that some of find so difficult to achieve! However, if planted around deciduous shrubs and left alone they will give lovely leaves with elegant flowers. Erythronium tuolomense has buttercup yellow flowers or try varieties like Pagoda with pale yellow blooms or White Beauty with white flowers.
Before many of the perennials pop up, shrubs start to get going. Ribes or flowering currant usually is in flower before Forsythia and is very tough. It survives in cold windswept gardens but does best in a more sheltered spot in sun or part shade. The combination of Ribes and Pieris looks stunning for early spring colour. Pieris prefers a slightly acid to neutral soil with some shelter but the combination of white flowers and red or yellow new growth brings life to the garden.
If it is scent that you look for try Daphnes. Daphne odora is a rounded evergreen shrub up to 1m high with pink starry highly scented flowers in early spring. Grow somewhere sheltered and where you can smell the fragrance. Another good one is Daphne bholua which is taller, semi evergreen but with the same winter fragrance. Well drained soil that does not dry out is best.
Chimonanthus praecox or Wintersweet is, in summer, an unassuming shrub about 1.5 tall. However in late winter it will have dangling pale yellow flowers with a lovely scent. So if you have a sunny spot neat to a wall or fence, where you can pass by, you will enjoy the scent. I would plant a Clematis viticella to climb into the shrub for summer colour.
Finish tidying the dead growth from last year to allow perennials and grasses to get going. Plant seeds of tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers and keep in a warm place such as windowsill or heated propagator.
Ensure that you have completed the pruning of roses and cut back winter flowering heathers when they have finished flowering.