March on a flower farm

As flower farmers across the country gear up for the start of a new season, Jessica Roberts of Featherstone Flowers takes us behind the scenes and into a busy world where keeping up with the pace is priority number one.

The 1st of March is the beginning of meteorological spring, and the 20th of March will be the start of astronomical spring in 2023. Either way, March means spring and brings with it the delights and hopes of a year of wonderful flowers. It also brings a slight frenzy to the flower farmer; now is the time that seed sowing really ramps up. We plant out hardy annuals, prune roses, cut back perennials, weed all the flower beds, finish mulching, and start bulb planting for summer cutting. The grass begins to grow rapidly as the warmth returns, and so we get to mowing – just once a week for now.

March is also the month when many of us start to cut the first of our flowers, with narcissi leading the way, as well as anemones, fritillaries, linaria, viburnum, grape hyacinths, and more. We cross our fingers and hope that we have as many of our own flowers as possible for Mother’s Day.

It’s time to get the beds ready for planting: weeding, cutting back green manure (a cover crop that protects the soil during the winter and is then cut and dug in to feed it), or removing bed covers. We must test the irrigation – flush it through to discover where the leaks are and get them mended. We have just had the driest February in 30 years, and it is critical that trees and shrubs grown for foliage and flowers are watered well over the next couple of months while they draw up sap and put on huge amounts of growth.

We want to make our lives as easy as possible for the summer, when most of our time is spent harvesting and planting new successions of crops, so weeding and mulching beds now is essential. Mulching will help to smother the weeds and slow down their steady advance. Towards the end of the month, the weed seedlings will start popping up everywhere, and hoeing them off while they are small will save many hours of work in the long run.


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