This is the month for getting the garden ready for the new season ahead. Fortunately there a still a good variety of plants to put a smile on your face and make you want to breath in the flavours of scent available. On the job side of the month, there is plenty to do including pruning and cutting back.
Plants for colour
Snowdrops are now attracting visitors to National trust and other venues and sales of the more unusual varieties can fetch ”silly” prices. For most of us the white flowering clumps formed in shady woodlands give enough joy and make for a good excuse for a family day out.
Skimmia, Viburnum tinus, Euphorbia and Hellebores, Winter Jasmin all give a good display at this time of year and are useful to maintain colour while we wait for the warmer months and herbaceous colour.
Plants for scent
Sarcoccocca, Daphne, Viburnum bodnantense and Hamemelis (Witch hazel) planted near a door or upwind of the house help give us wafts of joy from their individual scents
Cut back any Clematis that flowers in late spring and early summer: these need a light pruning in February. Remove all overcrowded and straggly stems and cut them as low down on the plant as you can. Tie in any stems that worked their way free from the plant support. Clematis which flower early in spring and the winter varieties don’t need attention. Prune late-flowering shrubs like Fuschia and Buddleia, cutting Buddleia down to keep them compact (about a metre high).
Later in the month, prune back shoots on mophead and lacecap Hydrangeas to a pair of buds. Hydrangeas mostly flower on last years ‘wood’ and they like being pruned to keep them youthful. So use this opportunity to prune out the oldest, most straggly and crossover stems, right down to the base. The total removed should be about a third of the total stems, so that over a three year period you have a new shrub!
Leave the shrubs which bloom before June , as they bloom on shoots which grew during last summer and autumn. Prune the shrubs which bloom after June as they usually flower on shoots which grow between now and then.
The trees should be as near dormant as they are going to be with little rising sap. So, take the opportunity to cut back crossover branches and any that have got a bit leggy. Try and give the centre of the tree a bit of space to breath as this also helps reduce the risk of disease.
Indoor plant care
Cacti have once again become a popular choice of houseplant. They are easy to look after and require little attention. Winter is their dormant period, so they require little watering and no feeding. Water other houseplants a little during the next couple of months, particularly Streptocarpus and African Violets. Ensure houseplants are receive an adequate amount of light. Keep pests and diseases such as Whitefly and Aphids at bay using a diluted mixture of washing up liquid and water.
You can put indoor forced bulbs in a sheltered spot to die back or plant them directly into the garden, so they will flower next year. Keep Amaryllis indoors if you want them to flower the following year. Cut back spent flower stalks to just above the nose of the bulb and continue to water and feed until the leaves die back in late summer.
Garden colour structure and layout
This is a great time for adding structure and colour to your garden. Contact Gardeneer office to make an appointment for Tony or Steve to come and discuss ways that this may be achieved so you can better enjoy your garden this season. Gardeneer provide a full service of recommending plants for your garden, selecting the most suitable specimens from a range of suppliers and then doing the hard work of planting them for you. This will help towards a cheerful garden with all the year round colour and or interest.
Gardening Jobs for February
- Divide perennials that are too big, just keep the newer roots.
- Give your lawn its first cut, but don’t cut it too short – just enough to top off the long spiky grass.
- Rake up any leaves that you’ve neglected to collect, such as those that are hiding under hedges.
- The birds have been having a hard time, so make sure you fill your bird feeders and try to remember to defrost the birdbath.
- Jet wash patios and paths to get rid of any slippery mud or moss.
- Keep your beds and kitchen garden as weed-free as possible. The time Invest your time digging up perennial weeds now, as this will save your time later on in spring.
- Keep off the lawn during heavy frosts. If conditions are suitable re-cut border edgings or install permanent edging.
- Trim back ivy and Virginia creeper and wisteria from around the windows and guttering.