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By Tara Lissner, Swiss Gardening School

From raging snow storms to sunny afternoons in short sleeves the month of March never ceases to surprise. We feel we are just coming out of the cold of winter with length in the day and sunshine on our faces only to be hit with high winds, cold temperatures and snow. At least we know that the garden is prepared and ready for these crazy meteorological outbursts, even the seemingly delicate spring bulbs manage to withstand the wild weather.

For me March signifies the turning point, the new start, the wake up call. The sun is higher in the sky giving my neglected beds the warmth and light they need to come back to life. This of course is also a wake up call for me to get moving. Now is the time to clear these damp and cold beds of the debris from last year, all the frost kissed seed heads that looked so lovely a few months ago are now a soggy mess impeding the progress of my narcissus. I have a busy few weeks ahead of me. I’d just like the snow to stop and for the rain to only fall during the darkest hours of the day.

The vibrance of yellow always takes my breath away in March. The delicate shades of the first primula followed by the pretty narcissus and the billowing branches of the forsythia heralding the end of winter – such joy.



March also means thinking about the year ahead, gardening projects, moving plants, creating new beds, adding trees and shrubs, creating a veggie bed, or there is also just keeping on top of what already exists and that can be a job and a half all by itself. Here are a few things that I get up to this month. If its too chilly to be outside for too long I take a look at all the gardening tools in my garage and garden box and clean them off, sometimes finding a trowel that I’ve been missing for a while or just sharpening the secateurs (Felco has a great video on youtube). I also pull out the plant supports and once the beds are cleared and mulched I place them at the peonies and delphiniums. If I don’t do this now I know I’ll put it off until it is almost too late, delphiniums do not like to be maneuvered into a ring support when they are in full leaf. Clearing winter beds gives me great satisfaction, I love to see the start of new growth in the perennial beds, looking forward to the new season of colour, blossom and fragrance. The roses have already started to put on some growth, I’ll have to be quick about my pruning before they get so full I won’t be able to see the stems.

Remember to remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches and then try to open up the centre of the shrub to allow for good movement of air; this helps to prevent the spread of disease. My next task is the veggie bed, and my cut flower beds. Raking them over, removing the stones, adding mulch and planning my crops. The sweet peas were soaked and planted (inside of course) and are now coming up, I’m so pleased. My lawn however does not please me at this time of the year. It has suffered from the weight of the snow and the sheer volume of rain and is looking the worse for it. A few sunny warm days should help bring it back and when it is not too wet to walk on I’ll start thinking about what to do.

In the past week, the first day of spring has sprung, and the beginning of a new growing season, so let’s get to work.


Author's bio


An enthusiastic, self-taught gardener, Tara Lissner is passionate about gardening and eager to share her zeal and knowledge with other gardening fans.

In 2012, she joined forces with Hester Macdonald, a British-trained landscape designer, to launch the Swiss Gardening School.

(Photo by Jean-Luc Pasquier)

Swiss Gardening School