Gardening in March here in the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches, Corrèze, France is a tale of two seasons. Whilst warm sunny days have you itching to be planting out, harsh overnight frosts and snowfall are a stark reminder that winter is not over yet. It’s a month to be cautious, and this year was no exception.
March started with a thick layer of snow.
Less than a week later the sun was out and temperatures reached 20c!
Followed by another skittering of snow on 23rd March!
Undeterred by the snow, throughout March my garden sprang into life. Perennials started to poke through the soil, shrubs came into bud and the first butterflies and bees of the year ventured out in the search of nectar. Hellebores, Brunnera macrophylla , Primroses, Snowdrops and Euphorbia burst into flower bringing a welcome splash of colour after the dullness of winter.
On the warm sunny days early butterflies emerged, predominantly bright yellow Brimstones, but we were also graced by the odd Red Admiral and Peacock butterfly.
In the main I spent March removing the last signs of winter from the garden; weeding, tidying borders, removing old stems from Hemerocallis and Hosta, and cutting back my Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’. I always love this first “spring clean” of the garden, everything looks so fresh afterwards, full of promise and excitement for the months ahead.
During the last week of March sowing got underway in the greenhouse. Tomato, pepper, chilli, cucumber, basil, coriander and parsley seeds, along with numerous flower seeds including Sweet Peas, Zinnia, Verbena bonariensis and Nicotiana were all sown.
By the end of March my greenhouse is normally overflowing with other freshly sown vegetable seeds such as squashes, peas, courgettes and beans. However as we are relocating our vegetable patch to the back of the house, this year we will have to forsake most vegetables. Whilst I’m sad that we’ll miss out on delicious, freshly picked produce, next year the potager will be in a much better location and bigger! Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to improve things, even in the garden!
As March came to an end, and with the sun shining once more, I decided that it was time to awaken my Gunnera manicata from his winter slumber. Though kept to hand in case of night-time frosts, the fleeces and layers of leaves were removed to reveal signs of early growth. Judging from the size of his crowns, I think that this year he will definitely be taller than me!
When your garden is nestled at 800m in the Plateau of Millevaches, March is certainly an unpredictable month. Even though we’ve now entered April, winter may still not be finished with us. For me, patience and caution are words to heed during these months. In my seven years of gardening here, trust me, I’ve learnt a few lessons, the hard way!
I’d love to know about your gardening experiences in March, what is flowering, the jobs you’ve been doing. Please do leave your comments in the box below