February: the real start of 'bulb season'
Despite usually only having 28 days, February can feel like a very long month for those of us who are longing for longer and warmer days. Even if it’s not been really cold and snowy, the last winter months can often fell relentlessly dark and damp. I, for one, am looking forward to the simple pleasure of going outside without a coat!
This month's star plants
Despite the vagaries of our winter weather, the arrival of February takes us a step closer to the most important season for the garden: spring. February is also the month that heralds the real start of ‘bulb season’, with snowdrops (Galanthus) coming just before the ever-cheery daffodils (Narcissi).
Few gardens are without a bulb or two, but if you have the chance why not visit an open garden with a particularly good snowdrop display? We have lots to choose from locally, including Little Ponton and Easton Walled Gardens near Grantham, and Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland. It's also worth giving some thought to which bulbs you'd like to buy and plant when they are available in early autumn.
Elsewhere in the garden, there are other plants also putting on a show for us. Many of the stars of January are still standing proud, most notably the dogwoods (Cornus), witchhazels (Hamamelis), and Helebores (Heleborus). They are now joined by Bergenia, Cyclamen, and Daphne. Look carefully, and we will also start to see signs of spring bud on many trees and shrubs. The odd herbaceous perennial will also be thinking about putting up their first tentative shoots, particularly if they are in a more sheltered part of our gardens.
This month's garden jobs
As for jobs for the month, it really depends on the weather. If we have a mild and dry spell, a few of us may be tempted to dust off the lawnmowers to give our lawns the first trim of the year. Keep the blades at their highest setting if this is something you plan to do. If, however, we are subjected to very wet or very cold weather it is probably a good idea to be patient. Frosty grass is easily damaged, and wet soil can very quickly become compacted if it is walked on excessively.
The last few winters here in South Lincolnshire seem to have been particularly windy, and if this is the case for February it is well worth spending a few minutes to check our trees and shrubs for signs of storm damage. Any broken or damaged stems or branches should be attended to promptly to reduce the risk of disease.
There are also a few other pruning jobs that we may like to consider. If we have autumn-fruiting raspberries then now is the ideal time to cut the canes down to ground level. Similarly, any Clematis which flower entirely on the current season’s growth (e.g. Clematis tangutica, Clematis x jackmanii, and Clematis viticella) should be cut to just above the lowest pair of buds on each stem- basically removing the entirety of last year’s growth. Other Clematis should be left alone at this time of year, so if in doubt it is probably better to leave things alone.
Other than that, there really aren’t too many essential jobs in the February garden. It is, however, a good time to consider any changes we would like to make to our gardens over the coming months. So, whilst we wait for spring to begin, let’s get busy making plans.
Whatever the weather this February, I hope you are able to enjoy your garden this month.
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.