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Gardening in February: A Month of Preparation and Planning

As winter starts to come to an end, February is the perfect time to start preparing for the upcoming gardening season. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, there are plenty of tasks to do this month to get your garden ready for spring.

Pruning: Pruning is an important task that should be done in February to help promote healthy growth and encourage strong, bushy growth. Focus on shrubs, trees, and grapevines, and be sure to sterilise your pruning tools to avoid spreading any diseases. When pruning, aim to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood, and be mindful of the natural shape of the plant.

Planting: February is an ideal time to plant shrubs, trees, and bare-root roses, as the soil is still cool and the plants will have time to establish roots before the hot summer months. Before planting, be sure to prepare the soil with compost or other organic matter, and water regularly until established.

Transplanting: If you have any plants that have outgrown their pots, now is a great time to transplant them into a larger container or into the ground. To make the transition as smooth as possible, be sure to water the plants well before transplanting and keep them well-watered for several weeks after.

To clean or not to clean: You may feel the need to clean up any fallen leaves, twigs, and debris from your garden beds and lawn but remember clearing debris from your garden too early in the year can disturb hibernating insects, such as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies, which are important for pollination and pest control. It’s best to wait until later in the spring, when the majority of insects have emerged from their winter dormancy, to clean up your garden.

Planning: As the gardening season approaches, it’s a good time to start planning what you want to grow this year. Take a look at your garden and consider what worked well last year, what you would like to change, and what new plants or seeds you would like to try. If you haven’t already, order your seeds so that you have plenty of time to get everything ready for planting.

Checking on bulbs: If you planted bulbs in the autumn, check to see if they have started to sprout. Once the weather starts to warm up, be sure to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

Composting: Start composting your yard waste and kitchen scraps. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste, enrich your soil, and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.

Mulching: Mulch your garden beds with leaves, grass clippings, or other organic material to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Water conservation: Check your irrigation system and repair any leaks or broken parts. Install a rain barrel or two to collect rainwater for your plants.

Integrated Pest Management: Use natural methods, such as companion planting, row covers, and hand-picking, to manage pests in your garden. Avoid using chemical pesticides, which can harm beneficial insects and pollinators.

Minimise digging: Minimise digging in your garden to reduce soil erosion and maintain a healthy soil structure. Use no-till methods, such as cover cropping, to improve soil health and fertility.

Support pollinators: Plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the season to provide food and habitat for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

In conclusion, February is a month of preparation and planning for gardeners. By taking care of these tasks, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy, beautiful garden this spring and summer. Happy gardening!

Hellebores

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Roses, are a beautiful and low-maintenance addition to any spring garden. These perennials belong to the Ranunculaceae family and are native to Europe and Asia. They are prized for their long-lasting, attractive flowers that bloom in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white.

In the garden, Hellebores prefer a moist but well-drained soil in a location with partial shade. They are tolerant of a wide range of soil types but perform best in slightly acidic to neutral soil with good organic matter. They are also very winter hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures.

To get the best results from your Hellebores, it’s important to plant them at the right time and in the right place. Hellebores are best planted in the autumn or early spring, after the threat of frost has passed. Choose a location that provides some protection from strong winds, as their delicate flowers are susceptible to damage. They also prefer a partially shaded area, which will help to extend the life of their flowers.

When planting, it’s important to take the time to amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to help ensure good drainage. Dig a hole that’s slightly larger than the root ball and backfill with soil, making sure to firm the soil gently around the roots. Water well after planting and continue to water regularly until the plant is established.

There are many different cultivars of Hellebores to choose from, so it’s important to choose the right one for your garden. Some of the most popular cultivars include:

‘Wedding Party’ – This cultivar is known for its large, cup-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, and yellow. They are also some of the earliest blooming Hellebores, making them a great choice for a spring garden.

‘Black Diamond’ – This cultivar is prized for its large, dark purple flowers that are held on sturdy stems. They are also very fragrant, making them a great choice for a shady corner of the garden.

‘Harvington Snowflake’ – This cultivar is known for its delicate white flowers with a slight green tinge. The flowers are held on delicate stems above attractive evergreen foliage, making them a great choice for a winter or early spring garden.

‘Hellebore Ashwood Double Mixed’ – This cultivar is known for its large, double flowers in shades of pink, purple, and yellow. They are also very floriferous, producing an abundance of flowers each spring.

‘Christmas Rose’ – This cultivar is prized for its large, cup-shaped flowers that are held on strong stems above attractive evergreen foliage. The flowers are a stunning shade of white or pink, making them a great choice for a winter or early spring garden.

‘Royal Heritage’ – This cultivar is known for its large, dark purple flowers that are held on sturdy stems. They are also very fragrant, making them a great choice for a shady garden.

These are just a few of the many cultivars of Hellebores to choose from. Whether you’re looking for large, fragrant flowers or smaller, more delicate blooms, there is a Hellebore cultivar to suit your needs.

Hellebores are a wonderful addition to any spring garden. With their attractive, long-lasting flowers and low-maintenance requirements, they are an excellent choice for gardeners of all levels of experience. So, why not add a few to your garden this year and enjoy their beauty for years to come.

Spring containers for a shady area

A shady area in your garden doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beauty of spring flowers. Container gardening is a great way to bring color to your shady space, and with the right plants, containers, and care, you can create a stunning display that will brighten your days.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Choose a container: Select a container that is the right size for your space and has good drainage holes. Terra cotta, wood, or plastic containers are all suitable options for shady areas.

Add aggregate: To improve drainage and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged, add a layer of aggregate such as gravel, sand, or perlite to the bottom of the container.

Fill the container: Fill the container with a good quality potting mix and add a slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for your plants.

Select your plants: Choose plants that are shade-tolerant and have similar light, moisture, and soil requirements. Consider the height and spread of the plants you select to ensure a balanced and attractive arrangement.

Plant the container: Place taller plants in the center of the container, and shorter plants around the edges. Fill in any gaps with filler plants such as ferns or hostas.

Water and care for your plants: Water your container regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Deadhead spent flowers and pinch back leggy stems to encourage new growth and prolong the life of your container garden.

Here are some spring-blooming plants for colour:

Tulips: These spring flowers come in a variety of colors and add a cheerful touch to any container.
Daffodils: Another classic spring flower, daffodils are available in yellow, white, and orange.
Pansies: These brightly colored flowers are perfect for adding a pop of color to your container garden.
Forget-Me-Nots: These tiny blue flowers are a charming addition to any container garden.
Primroses: Primroses come in a range of pastel colors and are a popular spring flower

Add interest to your container by filling in with these great foliage plants

Heuchera, also known as coral bells, are shade-tolerant perennials with delicate flowers and attractive foliage in shades of green, purple, and bronze.

Lamium is a creeping groundcover with white, pink, or purple flowers that bloom in the spring.

Bergenia is a shade-tolerant perennial with large, evergreen leaves and clusters of pink, red, or white flowers in the spring.

Tiarella is a shade-loving perennial with delicate flowers and attractive foliage in shades of green, pink, and bronze.

Asarum is a shade-tolerant perennial with attractive foliage and delicate, cup-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring.

When selecting perennials for your shady container, be sure to consider the light and moisture requirements of each plant and arrange them in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. As with any container garden, it’s also important to keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize regularly to ensure the health and longevity of your plants.

Creating a container garden for a shady area in spring is a great way to bring some color to your outdoor space. With the right container, soil, plants, and care, you can have a stunning display of spring flowers that will brighten your space and bring joy to your days.

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