11 March 2022

The shift from winter into spring has to be one of my favourite times of the year. Here at Furzey Gardens, those first colours of spring are gradually starting to appear. The garden is coming alive and the landscape is shifting into something quite special.

On your next visit, you will notice an abundance of interesting colours here, there and everywhere. Berberis thunbergii is starting to flower, glossy dark green leaves highlight the tangerine flowers. As a bonus, later in the year it will have good autumn colour. We also have a number of Corylopsis species, which is a beautiful shrub from the witch hazel family. It’s more commonly referred to as the ‘buttercup tree’ because of its soft yellow flowers in early spring. Keep on strolling through the garden and you’ll also see plenty of Erica arborea; a tree heather with small fragrant white flowers and feathery foliage. This heather can reach tree like proportions and brings a great sight and scent to the garden at this time of year.

Berberis thunbergii and Corylopsis

The colour doesn’t end there. Early to mid-march lends itself to a springtime favourite – the daffodil, of course. This year we have a good show of Narcissus cyclamineus, a petite species from North west Spain, nodding their dark and bright yellow heads in the spring breeze. Another species which has naturalised throughout the garden is Britain’s native daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, commonly known as the Lent Lily. In addition, the Magnolias are out in full force (far too many to mention!) as are a number of rhododendrons.

Alongside admiring the colours of the new season, the Furzey Gardens team have been hard at work tidying and replanting. One of our main focuses this March is to replant our cottage borders. This has included lifting the existing border plants and taking them down to our nursery and dividing and potting the best. These will be replanted along with a large number of new species.

Narcissus cyclamineus and Magnolia Kobus

Spring is an opportunity to do some pruning, there’s a lot to be done at this time of year. Now is a good time to prune hydrangeas as you can see the structure of the plant; we take out any dead, diseased or weak stems and also a proportion of the older wood to encourage younger growth. The stems are pruned down to a pair of strong buds. A mulch of organic matter will be very much appreciated. Late summer flowering shrubs such as buddleia, and fuchsia respond well to a hard pruning at this time of year as well as shrubs grown for the foliage such as cultivars of Sambucus nigra purpurea, the purple elder.

We’re also working on a major tidy up and a good clear out; something that all gardens can benefit from, especially on the back of Storm Eunice. This includes lawn management, raking leaves and debris, clearing dead wood and pruning trees to improve their shape and form. If you can, why not save your debris for the hibernating animals which may still be using them. Many bugs and insects will still be sleeping their way through the colder months, so once you’ve trimmed back your dead plant materials, why not leave them in a corner of your garden for a few weeks so that wildlife can gradually wake up and head off? Many insect will hibernate until the temperature is consistently above 10C.

Red admiral basking in sunshine

 

While many animals are still hibernating, there are plenty that are now starting to appear. We have started to spot red admiral butterflies and even a few bumblebees working on the crocus. These sightings will only increase in the coming weeks and months, so keep an eye out for them.

There’s a lot to enjoy during March, so hopefully you’ve found some inspiration in this article. If you have any gardening questions that you would like me to answer next month, please do write in and I’ll aim to cover them in the April edition, when spring will have arrived in earnest and our garden is heading towards its peak season.

This article originally appeared as the monthly In The Garden column in the Lymington Times, buy the paper on the second Friday of every month to read the next column first.

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