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Hertfordshire Life March 2016
This year I’m going to be doing more to support pollinators in my garden. I never use pesticides in my garden. I work on the basis that I can live with the annoyingly industrious ants, which dig up parts of my lawn, because a stunning green woodpecker will turn up regularly to eat them. Equally, I let the aphid population flourish without reaching for the bug spray because it means that the blue tits, and lady birds that I love will also flourish. It’s difficult to prove that pesticides are directly responsible for the decline in our valuable pollinators, but if the risk is there we should avoid using them.

One thing I’ve never done before is to build a solitary bee home. It’s a collection of drilled logs, bamboo cans and pinecones which create a nesting habitat for solitary bees. As the name implies, they don’t belong to a colony or store honey, they’re also harmless. But they do mosey around the garden doing a fantastic job of pollinating our fruit and vegetables. A single red mason bee is equivalent to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides. There are over 200 different species of solitary bee in the UK although many are declining in numbers at a worrying rate. Apparently February is the best month of the year to put a ‘bug hotel’ into your garden in a sheltered south or south-east facing spot about one metre off the ground. Give it a try.

Top Tips for March Gardens

Prune early flowering clematis
Spring clematis (group 1) are lightly pruned after flowering, but only to retain a good general shape.

Feed and mulch
Give large shrubs and trees a handful of pelleted chicken manure and mulch borders with garden compost or composted bark.

Wake up your Dahlias
Dahlia tubers that were dug up and overwintered indoors can now be potted up in the greenhouse.
Lift snowdrops
Increase groups of snowdrops by lifting, dividing and re-planting after flowering.   

Try something new
New compact white groundcover Clematis ‘Emerald Dream’ is perfect for a bank in sun or partial shade and flowers in April.
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