The shortest month and often the coldest, February gardening can be weather-dependent; but the days are gradually lengthening and signs of renewed life are emerging with winter bulbs such as snowdrops and aconite. It can feel good to get out there and prepare for the growing season ahead.
- If your climbers and creepers have been a little too rampant in their growth, they can be trimmed back to fit the space you want them to occupy before they get too carried away.
- Hedges and dense vegetation provide an ideal habitat for nesting birds, so now is the time to cut these back as required, so that you can leave them undisturbed once the birds start to build their nests and lay eggs.
- Ornamental grasses and perennials with seed heads that have been left over winter to give structure to the garden or food for birds can be cut back ready for fresh new growth to rise up.
- Buddleia and elder are so vigorous they can be cut down to the base if you want to avoid them getting too huge and taking over. Buddleia will bring butterflies to your garden in the summer and elder will give you blossom and berries to make tea, cordial or wine.
Planting and transplanting
- Provided the ground isn’t frozen, this is an ideal time to plant bare-root trees and bushes whilst they are dormant. Check out garden centres, specialist nurseries and on-line suppliers.
- It’s always good to be able to increase your garden stock without having to spend more money. Clumps of winter bulbs can be gently dug up, divided and replanted to give more flowers next year.
- If you have deciduous plants that haven’t been thriving in their current location, now is the time to transplant them to a more suitable position whilst they are dormant. Sometimes this is all that’s needed to change a sulky plant into a show-off.
Winter pruning promotes growth. This is also an opportunity to remove dead, damaged and diseased wood to help keep plants healthy and create structure. It’s the time of year to check soft fruits and apple and pear trees. Wisteria can also be cut back to two or three buds from the main framework.
If it is too wet or cold for all of the above you can still make progress by cosying up on the sofa, flicking through seed catalogues or scrolling through websites, to choose what to sow this year. Let your imagination run riot and plan for fantastic colours and amazing fragrances. Try something you have never done before just to see what happens!
If you have the space, are thinking of ‘going big’ this year and want to plant a tree or three, there is excellent advice and information on native species at:www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/advice/choose.
Birds will appreciate high-energy foods, like fat balls and peanuts,to help them through the winter and ready for nesting in the spring. Providing fresh water is also really important to wildlife in the winter, when many natural sources of water may freeze over.
Don’t have a garden waste bin or need more?
Wealden’s Garden Waste Service enables residents to subscribe to have up to four garden waste bins emptied on a fortnightly basis. For more information and to subscribe visit www.wealden.gov.uk/gardenwaste.