After what looks to have been the warmest winter on record in the UK, the Met Office now seem pretty sure that we're going to have a colder than normal March. Brrrrrrrrr - I'm still in my long-johns!

My Magnolia buds have been thinking of opening for two weeks now, so they'll have to press the pause button, and the frogspawn that was laid in mid February may go into slow-motion development.

In this topsy-turvy world, nature just has to cope as best it can and let all those survival instincts guide them through, And, of course, anything we can do to lend a helping hand gives them just a bit more of a fighting change.

I'm sure many of you are beginning to enjoy the lengthening days and starting to sow your tomatoes and getting the garden shipshape. Here are three key things to do in the wildlife-friendly garden in March:

1. Sow cornfield annuals. We'd love everyone who hasn't yet tried this to give it a go. All it takes is to prepare a large pot or patch of ground and scatter some annual flower seeds on the surface, whether it be a 'cornfield annual seed mix' with poppies and Cornflower, or something a little more exotic.

Here's a pot I did last year, sowing in early spring... a green 'salad' by early May for the effort of just the occasional water... a bouquet of Corn Chamomile, Cornflowers and Corn Marigold by July.

Check out here for my more detailed blog.

2. Complete any pruning. With birds now actively seeking nestsites, the last thing you want to do is go snip snip snip and find you've exposed an incubating bird to the elements. Dunnocks and House Sparrows have already been busy with nesting material in my garden, although Robins and Song Thrushes will no doubt be already raising a brood in many places around the country. It's then away with the hedge clippers until September.

3. Keep feeding the birds. Finches in particular can find it tough going in March, given that nature's cupboard is now largely bare.

And listen out for those first Chiffchaffs returning from the winter-sun holidays. It may be a rather nondescript little olive bird but that song, which also gives it its German name 'Zilp Zalp' and Dutch 'Tjiftjaf', is an instant giveaway and a real sense that spring is on the move. When that happens, maybe those long johns can finally come off!

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