Spring is coming. Snowdrops are just in flower. Daffodils are opening soon and the hellebores look stunning. It is time to get back out in the garden.
Continue to prepare ground with soil conditioners and Farmyard Manure, once the old died back stems and foliage have been cleared.
- Begin planting your veg and flower seeds in cold frames, window ledges or in a heated greenhouse.
- Plant large structural items such as trees, fruit trees and large shrubs.
- Pop in some spring bedding for colour primroses, pansies, potted bulbs etc.
- Reorganise your garden and fill any gaps with container grown plants. Plants moved when dormant and not working hard to produce growth re-establish much better. Sprinkle microrrhizal fungi on the roots when you plant.
- Prune late flowering shrubs hard removing diseased, weak and dead stems. Prune early flowering shrubs after flowering taking off a third of the growth. It is an ideal way to gain more gardening confidence at one of the most important jobs in the garden.
- Buy your early Seed potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots.
- Plant your raspberry canes.
- You can plant bare root hedging now. There is an excellent choice of beech, hornbeam, mixed hedging etc but it needs to be transplanted before the weather warms up.
- There is also a large choice of container grown and bare root evergreen hedging that can be planted now. Mixed evergreen hedges can look lovely.
- In the gardening world February 14th is the gardener’s Slug Day, forget Valentines! Commence slug control. Begin immediately if you have not already started. Kill slugs as they spring to life and you will have a far better chance of controlling the population before it escalates into slug warfare. Use a non toxic slug killer that does not kill off other predators. If you sprinkle a few pellets in a jam jar and place it near the vulnerable plants like hostas, it should make it more difficult for birds to consume them yet will be very effective at detracting and killing the slugs. We recommend the growing success organic slug pellets that are pet and bird friendly and endorsed by the soil association. Alternatively release chickens into your garden! If you persevere with slug control beginning early enough and use a boiled garlic wash which creates a bitter flavour on plant foliage, it is possible to have lovely hostas.
- Aphids can start on a warm day in February so be vigilant. Roses and lupins can get some of the worst infestations. A quick spray every two weeks is effective.
- Cut back ornamental vines such as Virginia creeper and Boston ivy now, particularly those climbing house walls and heading for windows and gutters. They are vigorous, so you can hack back hard.
- It is time to prune those clematis that flower in May and June (known as group 2) and those that flower in late summer (group 3). Group 2 flower on short new growths arising from older wood, so shorten last year’s growth back to a pair of healthy buds. This will stimulate side shoots. Group 2 flower on new growth, so they can be cut back almost to the ground. I find that mine are very susceptible to slug attacks if I do this, so I choose a pair of buds a couple of feet from the ground and prune to them.
- Ornamental grass heads may still be glinting in morning frosts but it is time to cut them back. Deciduous grasses can be cut back hard. Evergreen grasses should have flower heads removed and a tidy-up of the more straggly leaves.
- The time has come to remove hydrangea heads. Cut back to just above the first pair of healthy-looking buds. It is not a bad idea to remove a third of the oldest stems completely too, right to their base.
- Epimedium foliage has served us well all winter, but if you take the shears to it now you will make space for the flowers to emerge unhindered, followed quick on their heels by the lovely new copper spring foliage.