February In The Garden

I enjoy the quiet romance of February in the garden.  Here are some jobs you can be getting on with this month:

To enjoy the best flowering display from your Wisteria you need to prune it; you’ll enjoy more flowers of better quality, and it will look tidier.  At this time of year the structure of the plant is clear of foliage, so it’s easy to see where to prune.  Using secateurs, cut back each side-shoot to two or three buds, don’t worry about which direction the bud faces, just count two to three buds and make a cut.  It’s worth checking any ties you have supporting your Wisteria and replacing any that are too tight or damaged – it’s far easier to do this now before the plant gets growing.

Sweet peas are wonderfully cheery flowers to have, they are beautiful cut flowers, with a heavenly scent; I can’t be without them!  You can get away with sowing Sweet Peas in March, but you can also sow Sweet Peas now.  I have never found any need to chip or soak sweet pea seeds to aid their germination.  If you have trouble with mice, you can pre-soak your seeds for up to 24 hours in liquid paraffin to deter the mice, this works a treat!  Sweet peas should be started off in tall containers which allow for their long roots: Rootrainers, the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls, or deep plastic pots all work well.  I enjoy sowing a mix of colours; I always include Lathyrus odoratus ‘Gwendoline’, a beautiful rose pink, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Jilly’ a rich cream, and Lathyrus odoratus ‘Naomi Nazareth’ a pretty pale lilac-blue.  These varieties are all highly scented, Spencer types with long stems and large, frilly flowers, which make them ideal for cutting.  You’ll find more information about Sweet Peas in this article I wrote about my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial.

If you would like to grow more plants beneficial to bees and other pollinating insects, now is a good time to sow Ageratum houstonianum, Calendula officinalis, Nigella damascena, Cosmos bipinnatus, Machaeranthera tanacetifolia, Verbena bonariensis, and Papaver rhoeas.

Ornamental grasses and roses need pruning this month.  Remove any old dead leaves from your rose plants, as well as any lurking around in the soil, and 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.

Provide food and fresh water for garden birds.  Put up bird boxes, taking care not to position the nest boxes close to feeding stations, as the strong competition will usually prevent a nest box being successful.

In the greenhouse: sow aubergines, tomatoes, chilli, celery, celeriac, cabbage, leeks, and onions.

Outside: sow cabbages, peas, and parsnips.  Sow radishes in the same row as your parsnips: the radish seed will germinate and grow quickly, before the parsnips, which germinate very slowly will need the room.  Sowing these seeds together, in the same row makes the best use of the space available.  Plant sea kale, shallots, onion sets, Jerusalem artichokes, and rhubarb now.

If your garden lacks interest at this time of year, why not plan a trip to your local nursery or garden centre and treat yourself to a new plant or two?  Look out for the ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ logo when making your selections.

This article was first published in the February 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Other articles that may interest you……………

To see the results of my Slug and Snail Trial and discover the most effective methods to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

To read about British flower growers and the florists who will be using beautiful, British grown flowers for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day 2017, please click here.

To find out about the nurseries selling snowdrops ‘in the green’, please click here.

To read about growing Suttons Seeds F1 ‘Bodacious’ Sweet Corn Shoots – fast growing shoots, with an intense flavour that you can sow now indoors, please click here.

For information on buying British-grown cut flowers for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions, please click here.

To read about the 20 shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year, please click here.

To read my long-term review of the BiOrbAir, a specialised terrarium and indoor garden, please click here.

To see photographs from the 2015 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, please click here.

For information on bottle gardens and terrariums, please click here.

To read about my findings from my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.

If you’re looking for ways to protect your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.

If you’re interested in growing fruit trees, you might be interested to read my review of Ann Ralph’s book, ‘Grow A Little Fruit Tree’, if so, 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 which I hope will help you, please click here.

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