February

''If you have a garden in your library, everything will be complete. '' – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Grow Your Own

Its time to grab some really sharp secateurs and do some winter pruning on established fruit trees. If you’ve been growing autumn-fruiting raspberries, it’s time to cut all their canes down to ground level as this type of raspberry will produce its crop on the canes produced this year. Don’t be tempted to do the same for summer fruiting varieties as these crop on last year’s canes. If you have a greenhouse and want to get some early crops underway, consider sowing seeds of greenhouse tomatoes, peppers and chilli peppers. I’d also recommend planting up a couple of containers with seed potatoes – you only need three tubers in a 45x45cm bag or pot – and putting this in the greenhouse (or conservatory or porch!) to get an extra-early crop of early potatoes.

Patios & Pots

Regularly checking containers and removing faded flowers, dying leaves (and lurking snails), will help to keep them looking lovely for the next few weeks. If the view from the house or the feeling you get when you approach the front door is less than perfect, why not plant up a new container or two with some pretty variegated foliage plants and some winter-flowering bedding plants….or perhaps make one large pot home to a single shrub underplanted with winter-flowering bedding plants?

Houseplants

At this time of year, days are short and light levels low, so make sure your houseplants are getting enough daylight. This may mean moving them onto a south- or west-facing window sill, or moving them closer to the window itself (but if you do this, remember they’ll not appreciate the night time drop in temperature they’ll experience when close to the window, so move them away from the glazing before you start your supper!)

Beds & Borders

Take the time to look at your flower beds, would they benefit from some colour and interest right now? If so, why not treat yourself to some new plants, something perfumed too maybe? There’s likely to be some pretty nasty weather still to come so invest in some horticultural fleece and fleece plant jackets so that anything that needs it can be given enough protection against the worst of the weather. If damage has already been done, prune out any soft stems. Whether in flowerbeds or containers, if you’ve been growing winter-flowering heathers, to ensure they keep in good shape, cut back the flower-stems as soon as flowering is over.

Trees, Shrubs and Climbers

Trees, shrubs and climbers would benefit from a mulch now. Using well-rotted manure, garden compost, composted bark or similar material, create a carpet about 8cm deep beneath the canopy of the plant. It is important not to mulch right up to the stems or trunk as this can encourage rotting, so just leave this area clear. A mulch like this will help the keep the soil moisture in when things get dry later in the year and should also help to supress any weeds.

december lawn

Lawns, Ponds & Water Features

Your lawn may look pretty when covered with frost, but although grass is pretty tough stuff, if you walk on it when it is frosted or stand on it whilst tending beds and borders. You can do a lot of damage. Come the spring you could then see a seriously sad lawn, so do your best to avoid walking on it when frosty. Ponds and water features could still be at risk from freezing over for the next few weeks, so if they contain fish or wildlife do your best to prevent the water’s surface from freezing over completely.

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