February’s ramblings… 

IMG_1374.JPGWell that’s January out of the way, some may say thankfully but I quite enjoyed it, the cold spell we enjoy was the longest for a couple of years with temperatures down to -5c with me here in Hampshire. Here’s hoping February is going to be more of the same please! February was always know as field dyke month, the month when the winter rains really came down and filled up the water meadows to help produce the lush grass for the cows.

At last the evenings and mornings are getting longer, which is great for encouraging more and more of the spring plants into flower. Snowdrops appear from the depths of the soil from where they disappeared 9 months back to enthral us with their simple beauty and forms. They are now also one of the most sort after of all bulbs, with one called ‘Golden Fleece’ selling last year for £1350.00! I have to admit to having a slight ‘addiction’ to them, having 4 kids prevents me from spending silly amounts but nevertheless I have about 25 in my little collection, I could have so many more………

I am still pruning, oh I love pruning! Nothing better than getting the plants ready for the summer pruning, most of my fruit trees are now slowly and sadly coming to the end but my real true love in the pruning world is just about to start this month, Roses! Oh how I love pruning these prickly customers, I can (and indeed do) spend so many happy hours turning a tangled mess into something I hope is an art form, draping the walls with its shapes, twirling around posts as in some kind of dance or the shrub standing tall and smart ready for the inspection. Of course roses aren’t the only thing to start pruning this month, Buddeja, Hypericum, foliage Spireas, Hydrangeas are all other plants that can be pruned. I also like to cut back any grasses like Miscanthus,Calamagrostis I have left now, just before the new growth appears, makes life a little easier. Some of the hollow stems are put to good use, making a useful addition to a bug hotel, all others end up being shredded and added to the compost as bug food!

Of course it’s not just pruning that can be done at this time of year, if you are lucky to greenhouse many early crops can be sown now like lettuce, tomatoes, chillies and leeks and outside it’s a brilliant time to sow parsnips and early peas.

February is great month to start planting trees, shrubs and herbecous plants. It’s ideal to get them into the ground just before the soil starts to warm up, the reason I prefer now to any other time of the year is because it means the plant has the least time sat in a damp/ water logged soil possibly rotting away. Planting around now means the cutting that time down still while the plant is dormant. When planting, I like to add lots of organic matter, a handful of vitax Q4 and also some mycorrhizal spores in the way of Root grow. The mycorrhizal (forms of plant friendly fungus) grows on to  the plant roots, forming a symbolic relationship with them, helping to increase the amount of water and nutrients to the plant by approx 1/3, thus enabling the plant to be come more established quicker and more able to fight pest and diseases. Can be used to to help combat rose sickness, plants planted into demanding sites like old industrial sites. Mycorrhizal can also be used to prolong the life on older plants if their health is starting to wane.

Still lots of plants providing colour and interest at this time of year and the big big guns are now starting to flex their muscles, the first spring of the Camellias come out, with the odd Rhododendron starting to tease us before they unleash their beauty upon the world. Now let’s not forget the real stars, the real stunners of the spring time opener, Magnolias, oh how they delight us with their huge range of flowers from white to almost black, as small as a tennis ball to well the size of a small child! and there’s  scent, how delicate but sometimes overpowering, they to me are the stars of spring

That’s me for this month, I look forward to March’s notes, until then, happy gardening!

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