Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary - February 2012

'All the months of the year curse a fair februeer"

Just as a mad dog is preferable to a fierce sun in January, no good will come from a warm February.

If the wind is in the east at the beginning of the month, winter is likely to remain for some weeks to come, indeed snow and ice may be expected, but if the wind is mild and westerly we may expect the worst of winter to be behind us. During gentle spells of weather we may find a steadily lengthening list of jobs to be carried out in the garden.

Winter flowering shrubs can be pruned as they finish flowering. With Winter Jasmine I train as many recently flowered shoots along the wall as necessary and cut back the rest to four buds from the base so these make good growth for next winter.
Buddleia Davidii is a subject that greatly enjoys hard treatment; Around shrove tuesday prune back to four or so buds. Hydrangea paniculata may be treated in the same way, likewise the red and yellow stemmed dogwoods, the stems of these can be used as cuttings; place them in fine soil in a sheltered out of the way spot and they will have formed root systems by autumn.
All too often we see weak and sickly plants in the border, but this can be avoided in the average garden with a just a few hours light work.

Herbaceous plants which have not been recently moved or divided as discussed last month, may be fed with a general fertiliser, preferably with manure or compost lightly dug in at the same time. Rose foliage will be shinier and healthier for being sprayed with a fungicide. It is a good idea to start this near the end of the month as the stems will most likely be carrying overwintering spores. The main thing is to prevent the appearance of mould on the leaf, by which time it is too late to eradicate. Regular applications as directed during the pre and early season can see off the fungus for the rest of the season. Box edgings may be planted and if wallflowers, forget-me-nots and polyanthuses are still to be put out, this should be done as soon as possible. Also plant hollyhocks, verbenas, foxgloves, sweet williams and canterbury bells. Any ground preparation or sowing must be dictated by the weather. Excess rain or cold should see us off to the shed for more sharpening and oiling of tools.

Outdoor sowing is still fraught with danger of failure, but if the weather is fine and 'open' and you have a south facing or otherwise sheltered veg. patch it may be worthwhile sowing some seeds under cloches, assuming of course a fine tilth has first been achieved. These will include onions, carrots, peas, lettuce, broad beans and radishes. Long neglected Rhubarb clumps may now be lifted and divided. Fruit trees grown in a meadow may benefit from a helping of Nitrogen as directed by the manufacturer. I aim to put garlic and shallots in around Valentines' day. If the weather is still clement on Ash wednesday we may think about sowing Brussels sprouts and leeks. Chives may be divided and replanted at the end of the month. For many of us March is the beginning of the gardening year but much important groundwork carried out now will greatly ease the pressure later on.

Content kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit www.greenandgreatgardens.co.uk