Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day March

Every month Carol from May Dreams Gardens invites gardeners from around the world to celebrate what’s blooming for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Check out her website to watch the progression of spring.

In 2016, my March garden was way ahead on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, but in 2015, we were way behind. Such is the life of a prairie gardener. You never know what you’ll get especially in spring.

In 2017, I was in Italy on a pilgrimage. I do love to travel.

Here’s what’s happening this March for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at our Little Cedar.

Also, I’ll give you some tips on garden cleanup. Bear with me on all the brown photos. There are blooms at the end. You see, if you clean up the garden, you get to see the flowers. Ha!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. The original design for this garden came from Kitchen Gardener magazine, one of my favorite, all-time magazines. It was so ahead of its time. You can see the diamond at left, and the triangle beds surrounding it. I need to replace some of the boards in my triangular beds this year. It's just a matter of setting them in between the soil and rebar stakes.
The original design for this garden came from Kitchen Gardener magazine, one of my favorite, all-time magazines. It was so ahead of its time. You can see the diamond at left, and the triangle beds surrounding it. I need to replace some of the boards in my triangular beds this year. It’s just a matter of placing them between the soil and rebar stakes.

Although there isn’t much to look at right now–in most of my gardens, the predominant color is brown–there are a few bright surprises here and there. However, with less foliage in March, you can see the diamond and triangle design in the back garden in the photo, above. You’ve read about garden rooms in magazines I’m sure. My garden is definitely a series of rooms with a mirror image of these beds on the other side and four long beds at the bottom of the back garden.

Then, there are the borders surrounding the house. I’m happy to write that I have those nearly finished. [Click on the photos in the galleries to enlarge them.]

Who helps in my garden?

Well, I do 95% of it myself. I work from home so I have more time than the average weekend gardener. Still, my son, Brennan, comes on Saturdays and helps me with heavy lifting when he isn’t mowing the yard. He likes the extra money, and I thank God for him every day, not just on Saturdays.

Yesterday, he came over to help dig out some very unhappy hollies in the front borders. I’m replacing them with Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata,’ Japanese yews, which grow vertically in a pyramidal shape, unlike spreading yews, because there is too much shade for hollies now. I’m also adding a ‘‘Green Tower’ boxwood in a sunnier spot.

We also expanded a very narrow border on one side of the sidewalk that we added for the garden tour last summer. Brennan hacked out the Bermuda grass while I planted eight shrubs and trees in other parts of the garden. The 6′ x 25′ space is now ready for soil which Bill is bringing on Monday. It will take about 3.5 cubic yards of soil. Bill is bringing home a dump truck load, and we’ll also add soil to the raised beds we built for the cutting garden last summer. The soil compacted, so we need more. When we buy soil–which isn’t all the time–we buy manure mix from Minick Materials. I’ll plant roses in the center of the border and surround them with more native plants and daylilies. I have new daylilies I bought at the regional conference last year.

Daylily collecting is a sickness I tell you.

<em>Miscanthus sinensis,<em/> maiden hair grass at the top of the diamond. Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
Miscanthus sinensis, maiden grass at the top of the diamond.

My garden is about an acre or so–it just keeps getting larger every year–so I take these individual rooms and work on them one-by-one. I cut back the ornamental grasses and perennials I’ve let stand all winter. Since we didn’t have snow this year, the grasses were mostly standing straight and tall. I leave the perennials in place to help overwintering pollinators, but now it’s time to cut them all back in preparation for new growth. I worked the beds all around this giant maiden grass because I knew it would be a lot of work, but I tackled it Thursday.  After you make your first cut into the grass you can see where you’re going. A lot of readers ask me how short to cut grasses. It all depends on the grass, and you’ll know because if you cut too low, you’ll get resistance from the grass itself. Maiden grass has a large crown. Pink muhly grass does not until it gets really large. I did the muhly grasses in the bed that faces the street much earlier this year.

I also prune and feed the roses. Below, ‘Carefree Beauty’ is trimmed up and ready for fertilizer. That large maiden grass is in the bed just behind her. You don’t need to cut back all your roses this severe, but it’s been a few years since I’ve given her a proper pruning. Hybrid Teas like to be pruned pretty heavily, but shrub roses don’t need it every year. The same is true for Rosa rugosa.

Also, don’t cut back your climbing roses until after they’ve bloomed. Just remove any dead canes.

Rosa, 'Carefree Beauty' pruned and ready for fertilizer and mulch.
Rosa, ‘Carefree Beauty’ pruned and ready for fertilizer and mulch.

In March, I also plant any new shrubs, trees, and roses. I may also plant a few perennials, but not if they have soft new foliage from being in a greenhouse. I saw a lot of those this week at the box stores.

Speaking of the greenhouse–mine in this case– is awash with color.

I cleaned the inside of the greenhouse and grouped the plants by color and type for easier transplanting outside in late April.
I cleaned the inside of the greenhouse and grouped the plants by color and type for easier transplanting outside in late April.
'Meyer' lemon blossom.
‘Meyer’ lemon blossom.

I spend a little time in here every day potting up, cutting back and enjoying the scent of the ‘Meyer’ lemon tree blooms. Fingers crossed I get a lemon this year. I may pollinate it myself with a paintbrush. I haven’t seen many honeybees in the greenhouse this year.

Elsewhere, daffodils bloom with abandon. We are in the first wave of daffodil bloom. The white daffodils like my favorite white heirloom, Narcissus ‘Thalia,’ have barely started. Only ‘Ice Follies’ is blooming in the whites. If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know how much I love my bulbs especially the older ones. My favorite source for old heirloom bulbs is Old House Gardens. You might even say I have bulbmania, and I’ve been known to tell a good bulb story.

The hellebores are about halfway through, and the tulips haven’t yet started. I told you we were behind. I planted tulips en masse in one bed under a large oak tree, which now gets water from the grass sprinklers along with more tulips in the front bed–I’m out of room–and in two containers. I also planted a lot of pansies and violas in the tulip bed for color in the meantime. It’s the greenest space in the garden.

The greenest bed in the garden is under an old oak tree.
The greenest bed in the garden is under an old oak tree. Soon, it will be full of tulips and white daffodils.

I placed a smaller pot on top of the containers to stop the squirrels. Well, they ate everything around the edge of the pots. This aggravates me. Next year I’ll put hardware cloth over the containers to stop the little buggers.

Watering the tulip pots. I don't know if you can tell, but squirrels ate the tulips around the edges.
Watering the tulip pots. I don’t know if you can tell, but squirrels ate the tulips around the edges.

Let’s now move on to the hellebores.

Megan and I strolled the garden night before last, and she remarked on the hellebores.

“They look like roses,” she said.

Thrilled, I did a happy dance inside and then calmly said, “They are called lenten roses for that reason.” We’re in the season of lent now. They always bloom throughout Lent and give me hope that it will soon be Easter and spring again.

As I walk the garden, I take pictures and think about where I need to plant more daffodils for next spring to achieve better balance. This fall I’m adding even more, Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant,’ glory of the snow, and Eranthus hyemalis, winter aconite. I finally found a place they truly love, the border next to the garage, where it’s sandy and dry in spite of drip irrigation. The base of this border is builder’s sand from the construction of our garage. I amended it with compost, but it has the fastest and best drainage in the garden. The glory of the snow are finally starting to multiply. My most unique bulbs grow in this border, and it is just starting to bloom.

I can hardly wait. What’s blooming in your garden this March for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day?


  1. Rose says:

    I love all your hellebores! I enjoyed the tour of your garden, Dee, and hearing about how you go about getting ready for spring. This time last year I had most of the garden clean-up done, because we had warm weather starting in February. But this year I’ve barely started–and possible snow or ice is on the way this weekend! It’s going to be a busy April.

  2. commonweeder says:

    Nothing is blooming in my garden – not surprising here in Massachusetts. However, all the snow is gone (will it stay gone? who knows?) and I can see daylily shoots, sheffie shoots, and some bee balm shoots. Very tiny all I am happy to say I now have a tiny garden, and I am eager to begin real cleanup. It is wonderful to visit your garden and hear about the new projects. I look forward to more as spring continue to arrive.

  3. Sonia says:

    I love seeing the progress in your garden. Daffodils just make me happy and you have so many pretty varieties. I am always saying I’m going to plant more bulbs and then I don’t. You have inspired me once again that I need more throughout the garden. I loved seeing the interior of your greenhouse and how well your plants are doing. My hubbie and sons got mine up yesterday. My tulip magnolia bloomed beautifully this year and all my hydrangeas are leafing out…now I’m praying for no late freezes. Thanks for sharing great information!!

  4. Carol says:

    What do you do with your Hellebore seedlings?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Carol, truthfully, I grub out most of them, but I save a few. It takes awhile to see what they will bloom like, and I’m picky about my colors. Some of the newer hellebores are tissue cultured and don’t produce seedlings. I only have two or three of those in my garden.

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You are never too long winded. I also liked your explanations. The area under that oak tree will look so happy when all is blooming. Love seeing all the green. It is great when you can get a young person to dig in and help. It seems they can do so much more in a short time. My roses look pretty sad this spring. Our winter was so stressful for them. Happy GBBD.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, he is truly a treasure. He doesn’t like gardening much, but he doesn’t mind manual labor. I bet your roses will bounce back. I’m just hoping for no freeze. If we don’t have one, I’ll be very surprised. Thank you for reading my long posts.

  6. Wonderful tour, Dee. You are way ahead of me weather-wise (garden still under snow) and bloom-wise (a couple of snowdrops and brave crocuses peeping out.) But the serious planning has begun here. I can’t wait to get outside and start the cleanup. Your greenhouse looks fantastic!! P. x

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Well, Pam, today the weather took a sudden turn back toward winter, the bad thing. It’s only 44F out there with a strong wind blowing out of the north. I think I’ll make a cup of tea and read blogs today starting with yours.~~Dee

  7. I agree with Carol. It was a lovely tour and the pictures really helped.

  8. Peggy Zortman says:

    I could spend hours looking at your photography. You are by far my favorite garden blog because you share so much. I hope to get two little borders in this summer. We have a blank slate. Have to keep it small and close to our only outside water.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Peggy, that’s the dearest thing. I do my best as a photographer even though I’m only an avid amateur. I took all of these with my iPhone. I’m excited that you’re doing borders. Yes, easy watering is key.

  9. Carol Michel says:

    Loved the tour and all the explanations about your garden. Helps me to visualize it better.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Oh good, I’m glad. I feared I was a little long-winded this time.

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