At the time of writing this article the weather has been atrocious with driving rain and gales leaving the ground very wet. Because of this you may not have been able to get on with your winter digging. Hopefully, things will have improved and you have been able get on with it, as now that February is here it is time to look forward to spring. By now there should be snowdrops and some species of daffodils to brighten up your gardens. Another flower that should be out now is the Christmas Rose (Hellebore). You can cut off the old leaves of this pretty plant to expose the flowers and remove possible foliar disease.
Start off your half hardy seeds indoors or in a warm greenhouse. Later in the month hardy annual seeds can be sown outdoors if the weather permits and the ground has warmed up a bit. This applies to vegetable seeds too.
At the end of the month prune back the stems of pot-grown overwintered fuchsias and place in a well-lit warm place to encourage new growth. Dahlia tubers that were stored over winter can be started into growth in the greenhouse, also begonias, gloxinias and achimenes. Pot up gladioli for early flowering and plant lily bulbs and lily of the valley crowns in beds and borders.
Divide and/or plant bulbs-in-the-green such as snowdrops and winter aconites.
Clip over summer-flowering heathers removing old flowered growths. Do not cut into the base of the flowering spike as they do not shoot readily if you cut into old wood. If the soil is not too soggy plant corms of Anemone coronaria of the du Caen and St Brigid strains. At the very end of the month, plant ranunculus tubers. Continue to plant roses incorporating as much humus as possible in the ground before-hand. Prune established roses, leaving ramblers until September. After pruning, spray against black spot. Also prune winter jasmine, wisterias and ornamental grape vines. At the end of the month prune back Jackmanii and Viticella groups of clematis to within 1 ft of the ground. Leave early spring flowering clematis such as Montana, alpina or amandii until they have finished flowering.
If the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, finish winter digging as soon as possible, and towards the end of the month top dress beds and borders with a balanced fertiliser.
Place cloches or fleece over outdoor strawberry plants for an early crop. Cut back autumn fruiting raspberries to within 15cm (6 in) of the ground and trim summer fruiting canes to within 6 inches of the topmost supporting wire. Prune stems of blackcurrants infested with big bud mite. Cut back tips of blackberry canes and tie the stems to supporting wires. Protect outdoor peaches, nectarines and apricots from frost. This is the last month to complete the pruning of fruit trees. Plant new fruit trees and bushes if the ground is not too wet or frozen. Mulch fruit crops with well rotted manure or garden compost.
Sow tomatoes, parsnips, spinach and broad beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and leeks. Plant shallots and garlic. Plant rhubarb and lift, divide and replant established clumps that need rejuvenating. Plant Jerusalem artichokes. Chit seed potatoes.
If the lawn is soggy pierce it with a fork at 6-inch intervals and sprinkle a dressing over it.