March is definitely one of my favourite gardening months. Not only do the days visibly get longer (remember just a few weeks ago when it was dark at 5pm?) but the garden is positively burgeoning with the potential of what the year will bring.
The Conference pear tree, despite a severe pruning in November, looks to be promising a good harvest for 2012. This one is a small specimen tree that I hemmed in quite tightly with two raised beds back in 2009. Thankfully it doesn't seem to be holding that against me and is a regular and prolific producer of lovely big juicy pears that are perfect for my tarte tatin recipe.
Bursting into leaf already is a lovely Hydrangea anomala subsp petiolaris - the climbing hydrangea. Situated on the north facing fence, it grows incredibly well and produces huge attractive flowerheads each year. Even during the winter when all the laves have fallen, this plant manages to look appealing with its red/brown peeling bark and framework of stems. Last spring it took a bit of a battering when the chickens took a fancy to the leaves and totally stripped the lower third - basically to the height that they could jump...
The old March favourite - Forsythia x intermedia - is just coming into its sunny yellow best. This much maligned spring-flowering shrub is harshly judged by many for being brash and ubiquitous, but I think they're two of its best features. These shrubs add such an injection of vibrancy into the garden at a time when signs of life are much needed. Bring it on, I say.
My forsythia is a fairly old specimen judging by the thick woody basal stems. In June last year I embarked on a rejuvenation pruning plan - the eventual aim being to remove most of the thick old stems as far down as possible to encourage new flower carrying growth. As advised in many books, I'm doing it over a three year period - one third of old stems being removed each year.
And lastly, the ornamental quince (Chaenomoles spp, possibly japonica) that seems to be throwing up more and more suckers every year. It blossomed in early Feb and was then hit by the snow and below-freezing temps. But since then it's rallied with even more blossoms - in a gorgeous rich shade of red - quickly followed by small shiny leaves. I usually get between 2 and 4 small fruit from this most years, which I tend to chop small and add to any jam I happen to be making. Judging by the number of flowers on it, maybe I'll have enough for a small pot of quince jam this year.
BTW: for those who have noticed the time of this post - I'm not suffering with insomnia, I'm just in a different time zone currently...