February in your garden

Goodbye January! At last there’s a sign of longer daylight hours and spring approaching. The garden may well seem dormant but there’s definitely growth at ground level where tiny buds and shoots are appearing.

We associate spring with bulbs, beautiful daffodils, crocus and hyacinth. However, there are lots of lovely summer bulbs which can be planted in the autumn but early spring provides another opportunity. Allium makes a fabulous display and mixes so well with many popular plants – if planted in February it flowers in late spring and early summer. They are easy to grow and return reliably each year.

Lilies can be planted in February/March and make a great scented display. They don’t like heavy, wet soil as it can make them less reliable in later years so, if your garden has wet heavy clay conditions, they are better planted in containers.

There are lots of summer flowering bulbs in the garden centres from now on. Check the packets carefully as those which are not frost hardy need to be planted later. Tomato feed applied during the growth season and up to flowering gives summer bulbs a really good chance of flowering the following year.

Crocosmia can also be planted in the spring: they will flower in the late summer and make a great display. Crocosmia are easy to grow and return reliably each year.

Witch Hazels are frequently the first of the truly dramatic large shrubs to flower reliably in February. Hamamelis mollis “Pallida” is a favourite. It is smothered in large, bright yellow flower petals that are sweetly scented and hard to beat for the boldness of their display.

If you have acidic soil or a container with ericaceous compost, consider planting the early flowering Rhododendron “Rosa Mundi”. It has pink flowers with a reddish eye and does not grow as large as other Rhododendrons, growing to 1.5m: hence it is suitable for growing in a container.

A plant which is ideal for covering fences or for covering or pergolas is the evergreen Clematis, Clematis alpino “Freckles” which will actually flower any time from October through to February – it produces creamy pink flowers that have a very distinctive deep red “freckles” . This clematis also has the added bonus of being richly scented.

Finally, February would not be complete in any garden without mentioning Camellias. The japonica group of camellias are the ones that reliably flower in February and here are a few cultivars to consider: “Alba plena” is a large double white, “Anenomiflora” has dark crimson flowers which are borne in abundance, or consider trying the unusual “Lavinia Maggi” which is double white but with broad cerise pink stripes!

As ever, Gardeneer is here to help with your garden, whether it’s regular tidy-ups, designing and landscaping, turfing, fencing, decking and everything to make it the garden you wish for.

Jobs for February

  • Clear away dead foliage from perennials, chop it up and add it to the compost heap
  • Trim back ivy and Virginia creeper from around windows and guttering
  • Cut back ornamental miscanthus grass before new shoots start developing
  • Order seed potatoes, onion sets and shallots
  • Cover clumps of rhubarb with buckets or terracotta pots to force early stems
  • Use cloches to warm the soil for early sowings
  • Water pot plants sparingly and avoid wetting foliage
  • Bring potted hyacinths and bulbs under cover to bloom
  • Some lawns will probably have a good crop of moss by now, especially if the drainage is poor. If there is a dry spell, spike or scarify to remove the moss and brush a top dressing of sharp sand into the holes.
  • Plants to look for in February: Mahonia Charity, Anemone, Snowdrops, Garrya Elliptica, Jasmine, Hellebore, Camelia Japonica

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