February in my garden *
And just like that, the longest month of the year is over and it’s February in my garden once again. February also happens to be my birthday month so my darling husband has very kindly lent me his credit card for the looooong list of bulbs, seeds and plants in my sights :)
What's flowering now?
Not a great deal at the moment. My beautiful Japanese quince (Chaenomeles) is still putting out some spectacular bright red blooms (see cover pic). Unfortunately, she’s rooted through her pot into the orchard soil so although I don’t think she’s in an ideal position, I can’t move her now. Fingers crossed for a few quince later this year, hopefully enough to make at least one pot of jam.
And our snowdrops are still happily nodding away underneath the weeping birch in the orchard. At the front of the picture you can see the green shoots of the daffodils poking through, just before they open with that glorious burst of Spring yellow.
One of my favourite winter shrubs is next to our front door, underneath the honeysuckle. This is Sarcococca Confusa, or Sweet Box, a winter flowering evergreen plant with glossy leaves and the tiny, fragrant creamy-white flowers. Most of the year you just get black berries but January/February is when this plant comes into its own with the most delicious honey perfume. Tip: always plant it where you can smell it, such as near a doorway – you won’t regret it.
And my lovely pink hellebores are beginning to really open up now. I have so many planted in various spots around the garden (I always forget where until they bloom) but they are just gorgeous to see. A welcome burst of colour against all the brown and green at this time of year.
What's sprouting now?
If you read last month’s post, you may recall I said we were getting a new silver birch tree. Well, here she is! (Centre of the pic with two stakes either side). Young birches have reddish bark, they don’t get the stunning white peeling effect until they’re a few years older. Hopefully in time, ours will become as magnificent as those you see in parks and gardens elsewhere. And I’ve got plenty of room to underplant her with lots of spring, summer and autumn bulbs while we wait.
Due to January’s relatively mild weather, there are lots of buds sprouting on our lilac and hydrangea, and plenty of new green growth on the clematis and buddleias. I want to say a word about frost and snow here. Most outdoor plants are tough and will recover quite quickly from being frozen.
The thing NOT to do is touch them in their frozen state, and this is especially applicable to grass. Try to wait until any frost or ice has melted before you touch or walk on them as otherwise you will crush the membranes and hinder or halt growth. Not that Alan pays any attention to me in this respect… And although you might think snow would kill things off altogether, in fact it’s an insulator rather than a refrigerator (Eskimos build igloos for a reason, remember).
Outdoor jobs for February
I mentioned the new growth on the buddleias. Well, that needs to be hard pruned away by about two thirds. Yes, it’s harsh, but buddleia is a rampant grower (just ask Network Rail who have to keep the rail tracks clear). We have two plants in our garden, a white one that riots all over our orchard wall and a purple one that has grown through its pot into the gravel on the drive. I’m debating whether or not to rip it out after taking some cuttings for transplanting elsewhere. I do love buddleias though, they look and smell glorious as a cut flower and they’re a complete bee and butterfly magnet.
Our garden is always plagued by perennial weeds and now is an excellent time to dig them out before they start growing away again in Spring. Try to dig out the deep taproots rather than just ripping the top growth away and if you need to, use a spot on weedkiller like Roundup Gel too. I am ruthless with weeds, I’m afraid. No mercy.
Indoor jobs for February
This month is all about seed sowing, specifically those plants that need an early start: tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peas. We grow Thompson & Morgan’s Rainbow Blend tomatoes every year and every year their little pink, red, yellow and orange harvest is utterly delicious. My Sarah Raven La Diva cucumbers didn’t do so well last year but Alan managed to pick up some seedlings from Aldi, which saved the day. If this year’s batch of seeds don’t grow well, I’ll just send him back to Aldi again.
Flora loves helping to sow our sweet pea seeds into Rootrainers, two to each tube. Sweet peas (and broad beans) grow a very long root so you really need a deep pot or tube to prevent them becoming root bound. If you don’t want to use Rootrainers, you could try cardboard toilet roll tubes instead, although I struggle to keep them upright when they’re soggy from watering! Once the seeds have germinated, keep the young plants somewhere frost free and then plant them all out in May.
Speaking of May, and with fond memories of last year’s summer heatwave, we’ve been thinking about investing in a hammock or hanging chair* to take advantage of the shade from the weeping birch in our orchard. Personally, I’d prefer a hanging chair as I’ve always found hammocks impossible to get in and out of with any modicum of grace. But, no doubt, Flora will overrule me…
Alan’s been on daily bird feeder duty for the last few weeks, especially when we had all that snow at the beginning of the month. And we’ve had to keep breaking the ice on our ponds (gently so as not to cause shockwaves) to stop all our hibernating frogs from suffocating. I say this every month, but keeping a ball in the pond will go a long way towards making this job easier for all concerned (!)
Is looking a little bedraggled. Although, having said that, this morning I spotted the first new baby shoot from the broad beans we sowed last month. It’s too tiny to photograph though, so please just take my word for it!
And there are a few weeds beginning to poke through the gravel too – although at the moment Flora is a little reluctant to get out and deal with them. Obviously a fair-weather gardener in the making then :)
February in my garden
Phew, this has been a long post, if you’re still reading then thank you! February is such a busy time for gardeners as we’re all planning ahead for Spring and Summer and it’s the start of the new growing season. What outdoor (and indoor!) garden jobs have you got planned for this month?
* This post has been sponsored but all opinions and photos are my own and unbiased. It also contains some affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make any purchases using these links.