GENERAL MAINTENANCE :
The days are getting longer and most gardeners will be itching to get back into the garden. February is still very cold and wet. Try and avoid stepping on soil as this causes compaction. If you must then use a plank (scaffold board) to walk on. This will help reduce compaction.
Check newly planted tree and shrubs. These can become loose by frost so firm them gently into the ground.
It is a good time of the year to add organic fertilizer to your borders. Organic fertilizers tend to be better as they release nutrients slowly into the soil ready for the as and when they need it. Chemical based fertilizers do not last that long in the soil, plants also grow very quickly giving them long sappy growth which then makes them more susceptible to pests and disease.
Keep an eye on container grown plants. Make sure they do not dry out. It is a good idea to top dress container grown plants. This will help add nutrients into the soil.
Continue to take root cuttings.
PESTS & DISEASES :
Best to practice good hygiene in the garden. It will help prevent pests and diseases that are just waiting for the weather to warm up. If planting seeds note that seedlings can suffer damping off from warm, moist conditions. Best to plant seeds thinly and do not over water.
Do not walk on the grass when it is frozen or frosted. We have seen gardeners mowing hard frosted lawns. This is a complete NO. If your gardener is doing this, he is damaging your lawn. Lawns can only be cut if the weather is warm and mild and the lawn is not soaking wet. The mower must be kept to the highest setting.
Weather conditions permitting, brush away worm casts.
Turf can be laid so long as the ground is not frozen solid and the soil was prepared earlier.
If thinking about seeding a new lawn then it is a good time to prepare the soil as in March the ground will warm up giving the grass seeds a good start. Be sure to remove stones, perennial weeds and add organic matter into the soil.
Any overgrown hedges and shrubs should be pruned now before birds start nesting.
February is the month to prune woody late flowering shrubs such as Caryopteris and Buddleja. These can be cut nearly down to the ground. Make sure you leave some buds on each stem. Shred the cuttings and add to the compost heap.
Prune winter flowering heathers once the flowers have faded. Also a good time to prune late- flowering clematis and evergreen climbers such as Trachelospermum jasminoides.
Continue dead heading winter pansies to encourage continued flowering.
It is always a good idea to feed any plant that has been pruned, with an organic fertiliser and mulch with organic compost.
The general train of thought is that bulbs of snowdrops and winter aconites do not grow well if they are bought as dry bulbs. It is better to plant these in the green. These can be divided and planted after flowering whilst they still have their foliage. These can also be bought in the green from specialist nurseries. Make sure the planting hole is prepared well with plenty of leaf mould. Once planted water them in well. It is illegal to lift snowdrops from the wild.
The dahlia tubers that were stored can be planted up. Do not water these heavily. Just spray them making the soil slightly moist. This will encourage them to start budding.
Daffodils will be flowering in the garden.
There is still time to plant bare root deciduous trees, shrubs and roses.
When planting new plants, the one mistake we see client making repeatedly is not watering plants enough and regularly to get them settled in. Newly planted trees particularly need lots of water. This helps them to stretch their roots down deep into the ground anchoring them well.
RUNWAY PLANTS FOR FEBRUARY
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku’
Betula utilis ‘Jacqumontii’
Prunus serrula var. tibetica
Tillia cordata ‘Winter Orange’
Camellia x williamsii ‘Anticipation’
Chimonanthus praecox ‘Sunburst’
Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’
Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’
Cornus sericea ‘Falviramea’
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Flame’
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’
Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’
Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’
Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’
Hamamelis x intermedia
Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Camelliifolia’
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’
Phormium ‘Apricot Queen’
Pittosporum tobira nanum
Pyracantha ‘Saphyr Rouge’
Sarcococca hookeriana var digyna
Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’
Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’
Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’
Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite)
Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)