Gardeners Month February
February sees a noticeable difference in the amount of daylight and with it an anticipation of a new season just about to start.
If you walk around the garden and look at the buds beginning to swell it indicates that plant are getting ready to burst forth towards the end of the month.
The spring flowering bulbs are also on their way, snow drops and winter aconites being some of the first to give a much needed boost of colour and joy.
This month however can be very cold with hard frosts and rain and more often than not snow.
Historical names for February include the old English term Solmonath (mud month) and kale-monath(named for cabbage).
Finland called this month helmikuu, meaning “month of the pearl”; when snow melts on tree branches it forms droplets and as these freeze again ,they are like pearls of ice.
From the above description it is a month which can surprise with very different weather conditions from one day to the next.
So avoid tramping on very wet soil if you undertaking a tidy up of the flower borders or vegetable beds.
If you have to work when the soil is wet and heavy put boards down to spread your weight and avoid compacting the soil. The old English term mud month can be avoided with a little thought.
When the weather permits there are jobs which you can carry out such as planting bare root trees and shrubs which are still dormant.
The planting season for bare root was considered to be November until March. But current thinking suggests that Planting in February with spring just around the corner they will get off to a much better start.
After all who wants to sit in the cold wet soil for 3 to four months before you can get going.
This is also the month for pruning the woody plants. Hardy shrubs which flower on the new wood of the coming season such as Buddleja davidii.
Also look at the larger trees in the garden and consider if you need to shape and prune back to remove any branches or stems growing over each other to have an open centre to the tree which allows a good air flow and circulation.
It will also help with light levels when they finally burst into new leaf.
As with any job you are undertaking which may involve handling large heavy branches or which are in close proximity to any telephone or power cables and maybe close to house or buildings. It might be a time to call in professional landscapers or if required tree surgeons to carry out these larger tasks.
Now is also a good time to tidy and prune hedging before the birds start the nesting season so avoiding disturbing them.
It is also a month for considering new flower beds and borders.
If making a new bed in a lawn for instance, you can mark out the shape with line marking paint available in very bright colours which allow you to stand back some considerable distance and see how it looks before you start the cutting out of the turf.
If when you have cut the bed out stack the turfs green side down in an out of the way place and next year you have a great compost or soil conditioner for free.
Undercover if you have a greenhouse or lean to with a glass front you can consider starting some of the summer bedding plants such as Lobelia and geranium etc. Pot up dahlia tubers and when they sprout you can increase any you like by taking early cuttings.
The above are a few suggestions to get yourself back out into the garden and breathe the fresh air again and so look forward to a new season.
February birth flower is the violet(Viola) and the common primrose (Prmula vulgaris).Both of which bring welcome colour in the spring.