What to see in the garden in March
When I was thinking about what plant to feature this month I found myself listing the virtues of the Caltha palustris – or marsh marigold as; ‘easy to keep, wildlife attractors, good colour, virtually indestructible.’
All of which makes me feel very confident in recommending this native pond plant to any gardener with a patch of boggy ground or waterside planting place. Here on Dartmoor we’ve no shortage of wet ground to make these tough plants feel at home!
Marsh marigolds splash patches of bright yellow clumps around the lake and at the sides of our streams from mid-March for a month or so. They die back by summer and emerge again proudly to their 50cm height next spring. I enjoy seeing their bright green, heart-shaped leaves emerge, before the vivid flowers open.
They are in the buttercup family and although they have rhizomes they’ll spread by seed if left alone. They look very similar to buttercups with their yellow cupped single flowers but unlike their common cousins, they don’t spread vigorously or invasively.
Cows hate them, bees love them. I tend to garden for bees more than cows so I’m not bothered by their nasty taste. Early in the year they are a great source of food for wildlife and a welcome sign for gardeners that the season is stepping up a gear.
As long as their roots can stay wet they will be happy in any soil, or popped at the edge of a pond in an inch or two of water. They will do best in full sun, but don’t mind part shade. Hopefully you are getting the picture that if you keep them wet they are a very rewarding plant. If you have a small space, a plant or two will give splashes of bright colour. If you let them spread down the side of a stream or in a damp gully you will enjoy bold, bright springs for years to come.