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Frostbitten February

What will the 2020 gardening year bring?

February is almost as tricky as January in the gardening calendar. We are often kept indoors by the cold and rain and sometimes even by snow and ice. The garden appears to be on the edge of springing into life, with longer daylight hours and a hint of warmth in the sunshine. I always remain cautious, however, as a sudden cold snap could shut it back down completely.

On a positive note, the days are starting to lengthen, the snow drops are out and I've even seen a few daffodils in full flower. My tulips and alliums are starting to push through the ground (which worries me slightly when I think about the possible wintery weather that could still blow in) and buds are appearing on my apple and pear tree.

As February progresses I find my thoughts turn more and more towards Spring and new growth and the promise of what is to come. I also start to think about some tentative indoor seed sowing. I like to get my tomato seeds planted towards the middle of the month, leaving them on a sunny windowsill to germinate. If you are planning on growing shallots in your vegetable patch, now is the time to push the sets into the cold soil (don’t bury them, just set them into the top of the soil and cover them with netting to protect them from birds). They seem to like colder temperatures and will burst into growth as soon as the weather warms up.

February gardening jobs

February jobs are similar to January jobs (so if you haven't done those January jobs yet – get on it!), with a few more tasks thrown in to keep you on your toes.

1. February is a good time to cut down any deciduous ornamental grasses that you've left standing over the winter. New growth will start to push its way through.

2. Prune late flowering clematis as you notice fresh new growth on last seasons dead stalks. Cut out all the old shoots down to about 30cm above the soil level. Make sure to cut just above any new shoots.

3. Prune wisteria (if you haven't already). For advice and tips on how to best prune wisteria, take a look at the RHS website here.

4. There are a number of shrubs that can be pruned in February – Buddleja and Elder can both be pruned to quite a low framework and will still gain a lot of height as they burst into growth in the Spring and continue on through Summer.

5. Prune late fruiting raspberries by cutting all the canes down to ground level. If the canes are looking too crowded, remove some to allow a little more space and airflow.

6. Plant shallots directly into their growing position. Sow tomato seeds and keep on a sunny windowsill indoors until the weather starts to warm up and all danger of frost has passed.

7. In terms of wildlife – leave out food for hedgehogs in case they have come out of hibernation early. The RSPB has details here on how you can start a Hedgehog Cafe.

8. Clean out any nest boxes you have situated in your garden in preparation for the nesting season.

9. Keep putting out seed and fat balls for your garden birds.

10. If you have time – build your own nest box or hedgehog box. For information on how see click here.

As always, if you are not sure what to do and want a little bit of advice, or even someone to talk through your garden plans with, please give me a call at Wild Edge Garden Design.

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