It’s an exciting time and romantic time in the garden, with lots to do this month and so much to look forward to! Take time out to relax and enjoy the wonderfully scented flowers of Daphne, Sarcococca and Hamamelis.
Prune Buddleja davidii now. If you’ve got an old and maybe rather neglected specimen, then rejuvenate it now by removing any old dead wood and cutting it back hard. If you don’t prune your Buddleja davidii, the plant will still flower but will be much taller will look rather tatty. So get your loppers out and maybe a saw as well! Ornamental grasses and roses also need pruning this month. Remove any old dead leaves from your rose plants, as well as any lurking around in the soil, then feed your roses with a specially designed rose feed and mulch with compost or well-rotted manure.
If you’re looking to buy snowdrops in ‘the green’ please only buy from reputable growers to avoid purchasing bulbs that have been stolen or dug up from the wild.
A number of plants can be divided now: Achillea millefolium and Achillea filipendulina, Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconites), Solidago canadensis (Golden rod), Lily of the Valley, Echinops ritro (Globe thistle), Michaelmas daisies and Sedums, so lots of dividing to do!
It’s a good time to start off hardy annuals to provide colour, interest, cut flowers and valuable food and nectar later in the summer. If you haven’t already sown some Sweet Peas then do sow some now. Sweet Peas are wonderfully cheery flowers to have, they are beautiful as cut flowers with heavenly scent, I can’t be without them. You’ll find they will get off to a very good start if you sow your seed in tall containers which allow for their long roots – Rootrainers, the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls, or deep plastic pots all work well.
If you would like to grow more plants beneficial to bees and other pollinating insects then now is a good time to sow: Ageratum houstonianum, Calendula officinalis, Nigella damascena, Cosmos bipinnatus, Machaeranthera tanacetifolia, Verbena bonariensis, and Papaver rhoeas.
Remove any discoloured, or worse still, diseased leaves from your Hellebores – make sure you dispose of the leaves properly, either burning or binning them, don’t add to your compost heap.
Prune group three clematis: these clematis flower in late summer on this season’s growth. As new growth appears from the base of the plant each year they can be pruned hard in February or March. Cut back the old stems to the lowest healthy pair of buds about 15-30cm (6in-1ft) above soil level.
You can also prune winter-flowering Jasmine now: first trim out any dead or damaged wood, tie in stems needed to extend the main framework. Next shorten the side shoots to 5cm (2in). This will allow for a tidy, more uniform shape and better flowering next year. Feed with an organic fertiliser and apply a mulch of organic matter.
In the greenhouse: sow aubergines, tomatoes, chilli, celery, celeriac, summer cabbage, melons, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, leeks, onions, okra, and French beans.
Under cloches: sow beetroot and carrots.
Outside: sow Brussels sprouts, cabbages, spinach beet, peas, parsnips – sow radish in the same row as parsnips: the radish will germinate and grow quickly, before the parsnips, which germinate very slowly. Sowing them together in the same row makes the best use of the space. Plant seakale, shallots, onion sets, Jerusalem artichokes and rhubarb. Chit potatoes.
Plant Lily bulbs, and bare rooted trees, shrubs, and roses.
Dig in overwintered green manure so the ground can settle before sowing.
Take basal cuttings of Chrysanthemums and Delphiniums. Plant Dahlia tubers in the greenhouse so you can take cuttings and increase your stock once they start into growth.
Allow worm casts on lawns to dry, and then brush them away. Spike badly drained areas of lawn.
Check all tools and machinery, sharpen and overhaul if necessary.
Sprinkle rock potash around fruit trees. Spread a mulch of well-rotted manure or garden compost around fruit trees. Protect early flowering blossom from frost damage. Feed redcurrants and whitecurrants with rock potash. Feed blackcurrants with blood, fish and bonemeal. Dig in overwintered green manure, so the ground can settle before sowing. Mulch around plants to conserve moisture, and save time weeding once weeds start into active growth in a few weeks time.
If your garden is looking a little lack lustre at the moment, why not plan a trip to your local nursery or garden centre, and treat yourself to a new plant that’s about to flower, to add more interest to your garden, and a greater supply of pollen and nectar for bumble bees and other insects. Look out for the ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ logo when making your selections.
Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and save time weeding.
Deadhead winter-flowering pansies and viola.
With snowdrops, Scilla and crocus flowering and daffodils now coming into bloom why not plan a trip out to an inspiring garden to enjoy these cheerful flowers; Clandon Park, The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Winkworth Arboretum, and RHS Garden Wisley, all have lovely displays. Enjoy the month ahead!
This article was first published in the mid-February 2013 edition of The Surrey and Hants News.
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To find out about the nurseries selling snowdrops ‘in the green’, please click here.
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For information on bottle gardens and terrariums, please click here.
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For information on buying British-grown cut flowers for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions, please click here.
If you’re looking for ways to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.
If you’re looking for ways to make gardening easier, please click here.
If you’re gardening on a budget, here’s some tips and advice, I hope they help you, please click here.