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31 January 2013

February Gardening Tasks

Now that February has arrived bulbs are starting to emerge indicating the approach of spring. Tasks for this month are generally to do with preparation for the coming season but there is plenty to keep you busy, especially as the weather will be against you some of the time and you will be better staying indoors.

Some of the jobs you need to do will probably be in the following list:-

1) Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.

2) Cut last year's perennials down to the base, reducing growth as low as possible, unless they still have some life in them in which case leave them till the end of the month. Where you have areas of perennials interplanted with bulbs, try to avoid treading on the newly emerging shoots.

3) Attend to your hedges, pruning hardy evergreen ones and renovating overgrown deciduous hedges. Give them a treat with a feed of general purpose fertiliser and a good, moisture-retaining mulch.

4) Prune Wisteria - it will need doing again in July or August to keep it looking it's best.

5) Divide bulbs such as snowdrops. Snowdrops transplant well even in flower and the bulbs can also be divided at the same time - a method known as 'in the green'. You can then replant new clumps of snowdrops elsewhere.

6) The foliage on deciduous grasses can be left until February to add interest to the garden through the middle of winter but will then need a good pruning.

7) Protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches using horticultural fleece. Ideally early flowering crops such as apricots, peaches and nectarines should be planted in a sunny, sheltered position such as a south-facing wall.

8) Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off.

9) If the weather is mild you can start pruning your roses, though if the forecast is cold you would be advised to wait until March to prevent forming growth that could be frost-damaged. February is also the perfect time for planting new roses.

10) It is still early for seed-sowing and most half-hardies are best left till March, but slower-growing pelargoniums can be started early. Early-sown sweet peas always do better than those sown late - soak the seed on damp tissue paper for a night before sowing in pots.

11) Prune large-flowered clematis. Those that flower in late summer such as the deep purple “Jackmannii” should be cut down to about 1 ft. high, so they make a completely new structure. Give them a treat with a 4" layer of manure or compost. Early flowering varieties that flower in the summer and again later, such as “Nelly Moser”, should be tidied up at high level, removing thin or dead growth, but cutting them back hard will result in the loss of their first ‘ crop’ of flowers.

12) Herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided this month and they will develop rapidly once the temperature rises.

13) If you haven't already done so, February is a good time to wash your pots and trays ready for seed-sowing. While you are at it, give your greenhouse a good wash so you are ready and raring to go in March.

14) Finally, if you feed the birds in your garden, please ensure that bird feeders and tables are well-stocked and that there is fresh water available as this is the hardest time for them.

I hope this article has been of interest, and may all your seeds come up!!
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