February Gardening Tips from our Head of Horticulture

February Gardening Tips from our Head of Horticulture

It’s getting lighter – Matt’s February Notebook

As a gardener I look forward to February, the days are getting lighter and slightly longer, which I love, and more winter flowering bulbs and shrubs come into their own, showing off their vibrant, bold bursts of colour. And, at this time of year we can savour some of the most beautifully scented plants we as gardeners can ever introduce into our gardens.

I know I will be one of the many people looking forward to visiting an open garden to enjoy snowdrops (gallanthus) in all their glory, amongst early flowering iris, crocus and aconites. As well as it being galanthus enthusiast’s glorious month, it is the month when camelias (camellia japonica) put on their show of bold and beautiful blooms.

With lighter days, we are more encouraged to spend every spare moment getting the garden prep work for spring planting done. When spring arrives nature will burst into active growth and if we can get all the early jobs done now, we’ll have more time for the busy outdoor tasks once spring has sprung.

Now is a good time to sow early crops of vegetable seed, and start using the greenhouse, but make sure you have a heater set on a thermostat for any chilly nights.  Planting deciduous summer flowering shrubs, soft fruit bushes and hardy herbaceous perennials are all jobs we can do in February and it’s a great time to divide large groups of snowdrops and re plant around the garden to start creating larger swathes across borders.

Key plants this month

  • Daphne
  • Camelias (camellia japonica)
  • Winter Jasmine (nudiflorum)
  • White forsythia (abeliophyllum distichum)
  • Siberian squill (scilla siberica)
  • Crocus
  • Wintersweet (chimonanthus)
  • Sweet Box (sarcacocca)

February gardening jobs

  • Start watering strawberries, but protect on colder nights if in outdoor beds or planters
  • Plant lily of the valley crowns
  • Sow sweet peas
  • Prune virginia creeper to shape and get back under control before it starts to bud.
  • Prune deciduous summer flowering shrubs like buddleia and elderberry (sambucus)
  • If you didn’t have chance in January, then prune wisteria back to three buds
  • Tidy and prune back winter flowering heather
  • Prune winter jasmine once flowering finishes
  • Divide herbaceous perennials.
  • Prune late summer flowering clematis.
  • Divide snowdrops or aconites (eranthis)
  • Cut back ornamental grasses.
  • Sow chilli seeds, leeks, spinach, French beans, beetroot & Brussels
  • Chit second early potatoes
  • Plant dahlias in pots in frost free greenhouses

Matthew Peck – Gates Head of Horticulture

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