February in the Garden

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Hurrah! January is over and with it, the darkest days and coldest weather of the winter. Spring is on its way, as a quick trip around the garden will tell you through bulbs poking through the soil and buds beginning to develop and swell in sheltered areas.

However, complacency shouldn’t set in, as the photograph to accompany this month’s article will remind you. This was taken from a window of our home on February 3rd three years ago. Having moved into the village only a few months previously, I well remember enjoying the sight of the garden in the snow for the first time, but this was a really cold snap. Be warned – 2018’s February weather could well be equally chilly!

The truth is, we never quite know what to expect weather wise these days, so it’s as well to be prepared. Fleece on plants needing protection needs to be checked at this time of year and it’s still better to avoid walking on a wet or frosted lawn as much as possible. On the other hand some February days will be mild and pleasant and these provide a real opportunity to get out and get ahead of yourself for the Spring. Here are one or two thoughts about what you might do in your garden this month:

  • weeding. Weeding, you say? But surely the weeds haven’t got going yet? It’s only February after all. Here, though, is your chance to deal with any perennial weeds still sitting under the soil and laughing to themselves, ready to get a grip on the border and smother other plants as the weather warms up. By digging over a border and pouncing on the roots of dandelion, thistle and nettle you can really make a difference to your weeding work later in the Spring.

  • warming up the soil by laying some plastic sheeting over a section of your vegetable patch. This will allow you to sow seeds straight into the ground just that little bit earlier, giving them a good strong chance of germination.

  • you can plant climbers such as clematis as long as the ground is frost free. If you want a good show in May, don’t wait to buy Clematis Montana in the month it flowers but buy a good plant now and it will have time to settle and make good Spring growth.

  • this month is the time to prune any winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering. Mahonia and winter flowering Jasmine are among those shrubs.

  • a top job for this month is chatting potatoes. Try a new variety for you and choose one that has a good track record on disease resistance. The potato Accent is one that come highly recommended as being resistant to scab and bruising and if you want a potato for a particular purpose, Vivaldi is a great one for a smooth textured mash.

Frank's Garden in February 2015

Frank’s Garden in February 2015

Finally, it’s snowdrop time! Depending on the weather, we could find that our snowdrops are in full bloom through the month. When the blooms have finished, it’s worth lifting and dividing clumps of them as this is the way you will increase the numbers of snowdrops you have in the garden. They are such a delight; it’s well worth the effort to plan for next year’s show of flowers.

Frank Jones