Many gardeners see February as one of the hardest months to garden. The problem with February is that the weather is so fickle that it is hard to determine what to do in the garden. However there are always plenty of jobs to do even if it’s just washing out empty plant pots.
If the weather is kind, one task to do is dividing clumps of snowdrops whilst they are ‘in the green’ (in leaf). Snowdrops (Galanthus) and snowflakes (Leucojum) often do not establish well when planted as dry bulbs. The corms of hardy cyclamen, bluebell bulbs (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the rhizomes of wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) may also fail to establish when planted in a dry state. Planting ‘in the green’ is the best way to increase your collection inexpensively if you already have these gorgeous early spring bulbs flowering in your garden.
Once they have finished flowering in late February, dig up dense clumps and divide them into 2 or 3 smaller bunches. Make sure you replant them straight away so they don’t dry out and start to wilt. Plant the bunches spaced apart and plant at the same depth as they were growing when you dug them up. This is easy to gauge because the part of the stem that is white would have been underground and unable to photosynthesise and turn green. Water in thoroughly to settle the roots.
Spacing out snowdrop bulbs in this way can help them to flower better next year, and the increased space creates room for new bulbs they may produce. Your snowdrops will naturally reproduce, creating breathtaking swathes of white that delight us all. If you don’t have snowdrops already growing in your garden that you can divide, you can buy snowdrops in the green, either in bunches or small pots. Never remove snowdrops or bluebells from the wild as these are protected species in the UK.
Another task to do in February is to remove the top layer of compost from outdoor potted plants. Replace with fresh compost with added slow release fertiliser to keep your potted plants looking great all summer.
You may be tempted to start some lawn renovation in February, however keep off the lawn as much as possible whilst it is wet. If, towards the end of the month, the weather turns dry and mild, the lawn is firm and the grass is starting to look a little shaggy, give it a very gentle mow with the blades on the highest setting – don’t be tempted if conditions are wet! Also, if you are planning a new lawn, late February is probably the earliest you could start preparing the ground for seeding or laying turf.
Here are some other gardening tasks for February:
1. Plant onion & shallot sets into seed tray modules ready to plant out from mid-march.
2. Chit seed potato tubers
3. Prune blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.
4. Prune winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering, such as winter Jasmine.
5. Prune over wintered fuchsia’s back to 2 buds on each shoot.
Whatever February brings, I hope you are able to enjoy some time in your garden.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk