March should start to feel like spring: many bees will be on the wing, feeding from early flowers like primrose, crocus and lungwort, while ponds are either full of frogspawn or well on their way to being so. Toads spawn later than frogs, laying in ribbons rather than clumps, which they wrap around the submerged stems of plants like marsh marigold. They can form huge “mating balls”, with one female surrounded by several males. The strongest males gets to mate with her but this doesn’t always end well for the female – sometimes it’s all too much and she drowns.


Around the garden, leaf and blossom buds will be expanding, ready to burst as soon as temperatures allow. The dawn chorus is gathering apace, with dunnock, song thrush and greenfinch joining the early birds; the robin, wren and blackbird, that have been singing for a few weeks. Listen out for the territorial drumming of your first woodpecker of the year.

More wildlife gardening advice:

March wildlife inspiration



Blackthorn is one of the first shrubs to blossom, bearing five-petalled white flowers on short, spiky stems. Providing an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators, fertilised flowers will spend the rest of the year turning into sloes, ready to be picked for gin and jams in autumn.



Hazel catkins are some of the first blooms to appear in the year, as early as January. Pollinated by wind, they gradually open over a few weeks and then disperse pollen in the hope that it lands on another hazel nearby. Not as easy to spot, however, are the small, brown female flower buds that open around now, to reveal bright red styles of the flowers held within the bud. These are ready to receive pollen from other hazel trees. Once fertilised, the flowers develop into hazelnuts, which again are ready to harvest in autumn.



Dandelions are some of the earliest plants to flower, although many gardeners weed them out at the first sight of them. Despite being a weed, they are a vital source of food for bees and other pollinators at this time of year, as there is so little else in flower. After dandelions have flowered, their seeds provide food for goldfinches, and their leaves food for the caterpillars of several species of moth. Can you learn to love the dandelion, or at least tolerate a few at the back of your borders, for the sake of the many species that rely on it?