Mad March hares have a rival – the must-do-it-now March gardeners.
Somewhere there must be a little switch that triggers an equally little alarm clock: ‘It’s almost April so you have to get out into the garden and do any and every job it’s possible to do in one weekend’. That, obviously, is the message it transmits.
Which is fine when the weather is settled fair and there’s no longer a threat of further wintry weather, but with frosts and yet more snow still a potential threat for several weeks, patience is the key word.
There are one or two jobs which are best done before the end of March – for instance, planting bare-rooted trees and shrubs, and lifting, dividing and re-planting snowdrops while they still have green foliage attached. You can also mulch bare soil in beds and borders, prune bush and shrub roses and devote a bit more care and attention to houseplants which have given their all over winter. But Britain’s weather has a bad habit of lulling impatient gardeners into a sense of false security. Just as that one swallow doesn’t make a spring, so one sunny weekend doesn’t mean the garden is open for business for the rest of the year. Yes, it’s possible to take cuttings from stored dahlia tubers, perhaps even to propagate shrubs by layering them but don’t re-seed bare patches in the lawn until you can guarantee days of settled weather.
But if, just if, March promises to be a benign time of year and the soil is warm, plant early potatoes, clean ponds and pond equipment, plant summer-flowering bulbs, mow the lawn and trim the edges, hard prune buddleia, sow sweet peas outdoors and lift and divide big clumps of perennials.
It’s always tempting to make the most of the first decent bit of weather, doing things in haste can give you a lot of time to repent at leisure. Be patient.