The third week in March is when the nurseries are filling up with fresh perennials, roses, conifers, flowering shrubs and berry bushes. It’s time to get to a nursery while the selection is good and the weather still cool enough to make transplanting easy.
If you are looking for inspiration about which plants to add to your landscape, look at what is growing in your garden now and think about adding a plant partner to create a dynamic duo.
You can also move around the plants already growing in your garden. March is a great time to transplant as well as add new plant material. Some plants do not make good bedmates because they grow too aggressively and smother their neighbors. I never recommend planting English ivy, spreading bamboo, lamium “Arch Angel.”
In a small garden, you want to avoid any groundcover that can become invasive. Vegetable gardeners should be aware that horseradish has been a plant hard to corral because the persistent roots will go rogue and take over a garden patch.
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Here are a few cozy couples that share a bed happily and why the marriage is successful:
Daffodils and Hosta: Why this marriage works — A marriage of convenience
Daffodils flower early but leave behind long and strappy foliage that can persist for six to eight weeks. If you remove the foliage from bulbs past their prime (yes, this means tulips, snowdrops and crocus as well as daffodils) then the bulb will not have the energy to flower the following year. By planting hosta in front of your daffodils the emerging hosta foliage will screen the daffodil greens from view when they are looking their worst. Every marriage partner should be so kind.
Black Mondo Grass and Snow drop bulbs: Why this marriage works — opposites attract
Black and white and tidy all over is the result when you divide an existing patch of snowdrop bulbs and plant amidst a clump of black mondo grass. Early spring color is great, but add some early spring drama by highlighting the tiny white blooms of snowdrops against a background of deep black foliage and suddenly both plants get to play starring roles on the winter garden stage.
Clematis and Nandina: Why this marriage works — a support system for a diva
Heavenly bamboo or Nandina domestica (not to be confused with invasive true bamboo) is an undemanding shrub that adapts to sun or shade and will not hog the water supply in a shared garden bed. This is important to the more delicate nature of a clematis vine that needs to have its root system cool and shaded but its top growth in the sun.
Plant a clematis on the shaded or north side of a tall nandina shrub and let the vine ramble through the upright form of the Heavenly bamboo. This match is made in heaven for another reason — both plants can be severely pruned almost to ground level should a hard winter or too much growth make this combo a bit unsightly after a few anniversaries together. Sometimes even a well-matched couple needs a fresh start.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.