February is a month of mixed emotions for me when it comes to gardening. The weather can be so inhospitable, yet the promise of a new year is starting to show and there is masses to do!
The most challenging of my jobs are the hedges. Challenging because they are so tall, or wide, or on a slope, or all three. I dice with death up a step ladder wielding a heavy petrol hedge trimmer with seriously aching shoulders, peering through steamed up safety glasses, bits of conifer or holly raining down on me. Not one of my most enjoyable jobs, but boy is there a sense of satisfaction when they are finally done.
Then I cut back any other evergreens that are getting out of control or tree branches that have outgrown their space. And of course, all this productivity means endless trips to the tip lugging skip bags full of garden up the steps and over the top of the container. It keeps me fit!
Next, I tackle the roses and climbers. All my roses bar one are climbers or ramblers so for them this is more of a tidying up/light pruning/tying in exercise unless they need taming. The clematis are more of a lengthy task as I’m a huge fan and have 12 of them! Some scramble through trees and others are in the borders or large pots. Most of them are Type 3 in pruning terms so I cut them back hard at this time of year. Often people seem to shy away from clematis because they balk at the task of when and how to prune them. If this is you then maybe think again because they are such beautiful and useful plants. The RHS has a great clematis pruning section here which I thoroughly recommend.
Pruning the Wisteria requires another dodgy session juggling ladders on sloping ground and I’ve been known to end up dangling from the pergola before now when the ladders have slipped from beneath my feet. It’s all good fun though and the result is worth it when flowers abound later in the year. If Wisteria is another pruning conundrum for you then there is a very clear guide on the Gardeners World website.
I try to keep work in the borders to a minimum at this time of year because treading all over them compacts the soil so much, but there are a few things that require attention. I cut back any ornamental grasses before the new shoots start to mingle with the old and make the task much more difficult. I also cut back last years leaves from the Hellebores, Vinca and Epimedium so that once they emerge fully the flowers can be seen in all their glory. If any snowdrops have got congested, then I divide the clumps and replant them in the green.
On the allotment I dig in lots of manure for the new growing year. There are still leeks to be harvested so that section waits for a while. I plan out my crop rotation and have a good root through my seeds, ordering any more that I will need and making notes about when to start them all off. Don’t forget that if you are a member of AGC you get a 50% discount on these from Suttons! I sow chilli seeds and put them in my propagator to germinate, then slightly later in the month I will get my potatoes chitting. Autumn fruiting raspberries are cut down to the ground then all my fruit bushes are fed and mulched. I lost my blueberry last year so will be looking around for a replacement to plant on a frost-free day.
So, lots to get cracking on! If you need inspiration or advice, then there are several websites that have great ‘to do’ lists for each month of the year. Have a look at the February pages on Gardeners World, RHS or Sarah Raven. Happy gardening everyone! 😊
Photos @Rachael MacRae