This Month in the Garden, March 2022, with Kate Hill

Looking around the garden at this time of year it is a challenge to know what to write about but at least by the time this edition of Stn is published we’ll be into March so plants will be ready to come out of their dormancy.
One shrub which never fails to excite is Sarcococca (also known as sweet box), pictured left. Whilst its white tassel-like flowers may be small and seemingly insignificant their sweet perfume fills the air from January to March and that alone warrants its place in the garden. Add to that it has glossy evergreen foliage and will tolerate dry shade, so a very useful shrub all round. There are numerous varieties and all have scented flowers.
Cyclamen coum, pictured below, look such delicate plants but they are very hardy and another valuable source of flowers in winter. I have a couple of clumps which are white flowered – I must admit that when I bought them I expected the flowers to be pink but I’m grateful for any flowers at this time of year and I intend to add more when I see them on sale again. I have three small pots of Iris reticulata by the front door and they will no doubt soon be ready to burst into flower. Again, they will be a very welcome sight. Although they are only 4-6” high their markings are every bit as intricate as their taller cousins. They need to be viewed at close quarters to fully appreciate their beauty.
Josie Hutchinson kindly sent me the photo at the top of this page of her beautiful bright yellow winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis). With their heads surrounded by a green Elizabethan ruff these really shine out in the sun. A good place to see these little beauties mixed with drifts of snowdrops is under the trees by Normanton church at Rutland water. In April and early May the same ground will be covered in bluebells and it makes for a very pleasant stroll.
Another favourite place to walk is Cossington Meadows, managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. I went there recently with a group of birdwatching friends and we were fortunate enough to spot a very obliging green woodpecker which clung to a tree trunk and remained perfectly still so we could focus in with our binoculars for a close up look. Then further on, opposite the lake, a female kestrel was equally content to pose for us as she warmed herself in the welcome sunshine. On the lake were various species of duck including shoveler, teal, wigeon, pochard, mallard and tufted ducks; two pintails were also spotted. The photo here of a male pintail was taken by a friend on a previous visit to the lake.