Onward March!

March has come in like a lamb. It distinctly feels like spring and I’m in full on gardening mode. If this is the new weather pattern, I’m wondering if all seasonal chores should accordingly be brought forward. How soon should one direct sow seeds? Is it okay to move the tender perennials out of the greenhouse earlier by a month? What if the temperatures plummet or we get hit by fierce storms snow or rain? It is worrisome for sure.

Perhaps, for now, I must rein my impatience and work with caution. I’ll direct sow some seeds and reserve others for a bit later. The plants being sheltered in the greenhouse can wait a while longer. But some tasks like the spraying of dormant oil on the fruit trees to smother the egg of pests like aphids and coddling moth before the emergence of buds, giving a feed of compost to all the plants, Epsom salts to the roses etc., will be done this week. One must use sound judgment based on science and common sense.

Here’s the To-Do list for March

Cut some forsythia and pussy willow branches for indoor forcing. Place in water and keep in a cool place until the buds are swollen. Then move them to a location where they can be viewed as the blooms burst forth. A lovely prelude to spring.

  1. As snow melts, start clean up process. Twigs and other debris can be removed. Protect the still wet areas of grass and beds by first placing cardboard or wood planks and stepping on those instead. They help distribute the weight better.
  2. Later in the month, remove protective burlap and/or plastic wrappings and wind breaks.
  3. Get tools sharpened. This includes the mower blades.
  4. Commence indoor seed sowing. Begin with the early, cool weather crops. Read seed packet instructions and calculate dates for planting out.
  5. Order plants that will be required for the garden as soon as the ground has warmed up. Let your local nursery know your needs – they will inform you know when shipments arrive.
  6. As soon as possible, once snow is all gone and soil has thawed, spread compost on all the beds including the vegetable plot.
  7. Finish pruning fruit trees, grape vines and roses early in the month.
  8. Take an inventory and stock up on whatever is lacking. Soil, gloves, mulch, tools, water crystals, grass seed, pots, hoses etc.,
  9. Survey the garden and see what needs replacing, repairing or painting. Schedule and do the needful.
  10. Start bringing out or uncovering outdoor furniture. It’ll soon be time to linger outdoors!
  11. Get Open Days directory from Garden Conservancy – www.gardenconservancy.org. Mark your calendars to visit beautiful gardens in your area.
  12. Come to my Garden Open Day on May 11 between 10 am and 4 pm. I’m looking forward to seeing you! Registration has begun – https://www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days/garden-directory/the-little-garden-that-could

Here are some images from the bulb display at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens to get you in the vernal mood!

(c_ 2024 Shobha Vanchiswar

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Marking Time In March

March has arrived like a lamb. With the temperatures in the fifties, it sure feels like spring – that’s ten to fifteen degrees higher than normal. Make what one will of this new normal but it is hard not to appreciate the weather and assume spring is here already.

The snowdrops are still going strong. With continued mild weather, I’m beginning to think that its very possible that my forced hyacinths indoors will be mirrored by the ones in the garden. The perfume of the hyacinths is my trigger to get into full spring mode. I know some folk are not much enamored with their smell but not moi, I can’t get enough.

I’m eager to get new plants right away. However, a walk around the garden reveals that I’m getting way ahead of myself. Apart from the snowdrops, nothing else seems even close to blooming. The hyacinths have just about started nosing their way through the earth. Ditto for the crocuses and daffodils. The hellebores all have buds that are getting nice and plump.

Elsewhere, I see that the wisteria and Abeliophyllum (white forsythia) are covered in tiny buds. The latter will suddenly ramp up and be in bloom ahead of most other plants. Along the side path, I can just about discern the ruby red of early peony growth. A few more weeks before I need to put in the stakes.

A stop at my favorite nursery will no doubt tell me to have a little more patience. Don’t they know me by now? I’d like to at least get the window-boxes and urns planted up. Those set the scene for spring instantly.

Yet, I know I cannot hurry up the process. Instead, I must get started on the various chores for this month. Cut back the old hellebore leaves, pick up winter debris, prune down the colorful limbs of dogwood shrubs and a myriad other things. But first, I’m going to get me some branches of pussy willow and forsythia to force.

Spring is going to be well underway indoors.

Note: Mark your calendar! My garden’s Open Day is May 16.

I’m thrilled to be participating in the art show at the Phyllis Harriman Gallery of the New York Art Students League this week. The reception is tomorrow March 4, 6-8 pm. Do stop by. It’s an amazing show!

The following images show the current state of my garden –

Rose ‘Srawberry Hill’ waking up


White forsythia getting ready. Any time now!



Can you see the emerging red of peony?

The espalier walk

More snowdrops coming through


More hellebore

(c) 2020 Shobha Vanchiswar

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