Gardening Magazine

And So That Was March

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

The longer, brighter days of March brought new life to the Priory.  A kingfisher is an occasional visitor, as are mandarin ducks; and tree-creepers are a new notch in my bird-watching stick.   But all three are ultra shy and impossible to photograph.  Yet.

Canada Geese

With the grass growing, canada geese returned.

Canada Geese (2)

They don’t stay long; just gobble a bit of lawn, defecate profusely and then announce their imminent departure by loud, prolonged honking.  Still honking, they hoist themselves into the air and fly off somewhere altogether better – presumably – leaving the garden a little emptier; a lot quieter.  Perhaps they’ll return to breed but they haven’t in the past.

Reed Bunting & Dunnock

Dunnock and female reed bunting

Last week saw another new species in the garden … which I was able to photograph.  Not the dunnock on the left – obviously – but its companion: a reed bunting.

Reed Buntings

Female and male reed bunting

I only knew what she was, because of her distinctive mate.

Male Reed Bunting

Male Reed Bunting

Reed buntings increasingly visit gardens to feed: these two were foraging beneath the feeders.  With reed mace spreading through shallow water in the ponds, I wonder whether they will stick around and build a nest.  They could do worse.

Cyclamen coum

The snowdrops and crocuses went over during March as Cyclamen coum reached a quiet peak.  The handful I planted are spreading nicely.

February Gold (2)

Of the 100’s of daffodils I’ve added, February Gold are amongst the most successful.  (This won’t be news – I tell you the same every year.  It’s almost a tradition).

February Gold

But after last year’s surprise February flowering, and as we head into April, they’re back to their usual tardy, malingering ways.


Primroses are everywhere;

Primroses (3)

on the bank below the greenhouses,


with the first couple of wood anemones;

Primroses on lawn

and springing up in areas of lawn I leave uncut.


There are even a few coloured primroses.  They came, unwanted, from a garden I once worked in and, though I didn’t particularly want them either, I didn’t have the heart to chuck them out.  They’re OK, I suppose.

Wild primrose

But when the common or garden yellow is so very perfect, I see no need for blue or mauve.

Snakeshead fritillary

The first fritillary has emerged on the meadow.  I’m hoping to show you many, many more.

Violas in pots

But as the Priory sits deep in Jack Frost’s pocket, there still isn’t an awful lot happening.


On the last day of March, as I stood out on the meadow – grumbling at how poorly various daffodils are performing (it’s too soggy, I now realise) – my eyes drifted off to the six weeping willows by the west pond.

Weeping Willow (3)

The sun lit up the new leaf and, in a hearty breeze, they waved and drew me over.

Weeping Willow (2)

They’ll be better still with more leaf unfurled.

Weeping Willow

No-one’s ever said to me, “David, you simply must come into the garden and see my dancing weeping willows.”  Maybe they feared my reaction?   But the long drooping branches did sway and shimmer beautifully: it was beguiling to watch … if difficult to convey in a couple of photos.


This might be better?  But to see them properly, one blustery March day, you simply must come into the garden and see my dancing weeping willows.

Now that’s something no-one’s ever said to you before.

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