Get tips and ideas from my cottage garden in March- see what's blooming in early spring, what needs to be done, and what you can start growing.
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As a way to welcome the new gardening season, I decided to take you on a little tour of our cottage garden, from front to back and out to the vegetable garden, too. As we tour, I'll be sharing:
- what varieties bloom in early spring
- garden chores you can do in March and April
- what you can start planting now, both in the flower border and vegetable garden
So let's get started!
Front Cottage Garden
The perennial and shrub garden in front of our porch is shown more completely in the first picture - you can see a lot of green and three things blooming: daffodil and grape hyacinth bulbs and the blue flowers of brunnera, one of my favorite perennials. Two more bulbs will bloom through April- scilla and tulips - and the brunnera will keep blooming until almost June (it's a great plant!).
You can see how much our honeybees love the early spring blooms of grape hyacinth, so not only do the early blooms brighten our lives, it helps the bees, too.
Also in full bud and just starting to bloom are bearded iris, which are SO easy to grow and provide green spear-like foliage for the rest of the season.
So if you'd like to add more early spring blooms you'll want to plant:
- Fall planted bulbs like crocus (Feb. to early March here-they've already finished blooming), daffodils, grape hyacinth, scilla (which can get out of hand, so be careful...), and tulips.
- Common brunnera and Jack Frost brunnera (variegated leaves)
- shrubs like azalea and dwarf rhododendron (or regular sized for larger areas)
- Bearded iris
Back Cottage Garden
In our long back border, you'll see a lot of the same blooms (when I like something, I plant it multiple places...), AND some things that need to be done soon (always a part of a gardener's life, right?).
Chores that need to be done in early spring:
- pruning of summer-blooming shrubs, if needed for shaping (like the large shrub on the right)
- weeding large clumps & perennial weeds like dandelion and then:
- layer newspaper & mulch over the smaller weeds to kill & keep the weeds at bay for the rest of the season
- mowing and edging
This small patio border is waiting for its newspaper and mulch topping, but before I do I need to plant a perennial in a spot where I lost one last year. When your ground is workable, spring is a good time to plant perennials so they have enough time to develop roots well with the spring rains.
Favorite perennials that provide a lot of blooms with minimum upkeep include:
- Hardy geranium
- Lady's mantel
- Black-eyed Susan
- Stella D'Oro daylily
- Autumn Joy sedum
Out in the fruit and vegetable garden, the blueberry bushes are budding up nicely. If you have blueberries, they really appreciate a layer of mulch to conserve water, prevent weeds and add organic matter. They also like acid soil which can be achieved with fertilizers like blood meal and cottonseed meal (manures may damage the plants).
I like to mulch with pine needles that drop from our trees in the fall since they help make the soil acid.
Asparagus should have been cut back and layered with compost in January or February - and you will be seeing the first shoots in established beds (you can get lots more information on how to grow asparagus - plus how to use it -in my Ultimate Asparagus Guide). My beds have been here for years and they produce a few handfuls in late March, before producing abundantly April through June.
Another March chore is to cover all your bigger vegetable areas with black plastic to use solar power to kill the weeds over the next month or two before planting with a no-till method that reduces the need to weed dramatically!
In northern gardens March and April is the time to plant these vegetables:
- seeds: spinach, lettuce, and other cool-weather greens like kale & chard
- onion starts or sets
- seeds: peas
- potatoes (if your ground is workable - it's okay to wait until later if you need to)
- seeds: (main crops in April) beets, carrots, endive, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips, rutabagas
- plant starts (in April): broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks
Whew. While it seems like a lot, you don't have to do all your gardening tasks at once- and it's fun to finally be out digging in the garden again, right?
Make This Year's Garden A Success!