By Glyn Smith Head Gardener at Erddig Hall National Trust Garden
The weather so far this year has been very variable. Although we have had some cold weather, it has been short-lived. Comparatively it has been mild so far. Some deciduous shrubs in the garden still retain their leaves. It is difficult to predict what sort of February we will get. Will it be warm, wet, or snowy? We’ll have to adapt our work to the weather.
February can be a very busy month in the garden, plants are thinking of growing, we already have snowdrops and crocus out. Our priority this month is to try to finish the fruit tree pruning and start pruning our mammoth Pleached lime avenues.
Tree and shrub planting should be coming to a close. Complete planting any large bare rooted trees and shrubs now, whilst they are still dormant. We can take a little longer to plant containerised trees and shrubs.
Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots will soon be in blossom. To get a good fruit set, try helping by pollinating the flowers yourself. Traditionally gardeners would use a rabbit’s foot, but you may prefer a soft artist’s paintbrush. Brush over the blossom gently on a warm day and move the pollen from flower to flower.
If it is poor weather you can buy seeds, compost and other items you will be needing. In the greenhouse you can start to sow broad beans, peas and cauliflowers and maybe a few early salad leaves. Some half hardy summer flowers can be sown too, such as Begonias, Lobelia and Salvias.
Dahlia tubers can also be started into growth, if you are going to take cuttings of the new shoots that emerge, to increase the number of plants you want. The same goes for Chrysanthemums.
Rooted cuttings of Geraniums (Pelargoniums) and Fuchsias can be potted up. Garden centres will also be stocking young plants of them too for you to grow on.
Parsnips and Turnip seeds can be sown outdoors. Towards the end of the month, Jerusalem Artichokes can be planted. There is an old custom that says you should plant Shallots on the shortest day, but on heavier ground I like to plant them later in February.
There are several shrubs that can be pruned in February. Hydrangea paniculata, Spiraeas, Tamarix and Hypericum. Now is also time to prune large summer flowered Clematis.
If it is dry and mild, you may like to get out into the garden or allotment and do some digging and preparation. It’s also a good time to make changes or landscape improvements.
Finally, test that lawnmower or strimmer, you will need them soon. Book them in for any repairs or servicing.