February in the Garden
After a very long and fairly miserable January, February in the garden heralds the start of seed sowing and the beginnings of little splashes of colour in the garden. Purple and yellow crocuses, snowdrops, pink cyclamen, and purple irises are all beginning to appear, and even a few early tete-a-tetes (miniature daffodils). You may remember from my January post that I couldn’t remember where I’d planted my pink hellebores – whoop, whoop, I can now, they’re coming through beautifully!
One plant that really needs to be pruned now is buddleia. We have two in our garden, a purple one in a pot (our vain attempt at controlling it), and a gloriously rioting white one against our orchard wall. Both need to be hard pruned and reduced by about two thirds. It seems harsh, but this will stimulate new growth and an abundance of flowers in summer, perfect for butterflies and bees. And also for cutting and displaying in vases. I love buddleias as cut flowers, they smell of honey and look amazing arranged with hydrangeas or dahlias.
You might think with frosts and snow that now isn’t a good time for planting but, as long as you pick a day when the ground isn’t actually frozen, that’s not so. Rhubarb crowns and new rose plants can both be planted now and, towards the end of February, so can snowdrops in the green. Planting in the green means once a bulb has finished flowering and just the foliage is left, they can be dug up, separated, and replanted in a new area. Because they’re already established plants, they’ll get going much more quickly than if they were just bulbs. Bluebells are also far easier to grow this way too – albeit later in the year.
Seeds to sow now
After a trip to the shed to see how many usable planters I have left (not enough, there are never enough) I also need to buy some seed compost for starting off our tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peas inside the house. So no spare window ledges in the kitchen and utility for the next four months…
We’ll be growing Thompson & Morgan’s Rainbow Blend tomatoes again. They come in pink, red, yellow and orange although of course, you never know what colours you’re going to get until the fruits ripen. But they are the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever grown so I’m not changing now. Sarah Raven’s La Diva cucumbers are also our favourite – sweet, crunchy, and unlike anything you can buy in the shops.
And, last but not least, Flora will be helping to sow the sweet pea seeds into Rootrainers, two to each tube. Sweet peas generate a long root so the deeper the pot or tube, the less disturbance when you plant out. In previous years I’ve used the cardboard toilet roll tubes instead of Rootrainers, and just planted the whole lot out in May.
Now’s also a great time to sow broad beans outside. Pick a day when the ground isn’t frozen, dig over the earth, and plant your beans in rows, about 20cm apart from each other to allow them space to grow and fruit. It’s a good idea to put some support stakes or canes in at the same time, so you can tie the plants in as they develop rather than stabbing into their roots later on (yes, I have done this, no, the plants didn’t like it).
Keep your bird feeders topped up and also make sure that any ponds or water sources have something in them (such as a Spiderman ball) to stop ice forming a solid sheet. As I type this post, snow and freezing temperatures are forecast so this is a job I’m delegating to my husband (!)
Reading this post back, my February in the garden is really more of a February sowing seeds, but I’m so excited that the new growing season is underway at last. What jobs have you got planned for this month?
A POST BY RESIDENT BLOGGER LISA MCLACHLAN