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