At the time of writing my article as like last month the weather is still rain, rain and more rain. The forecast is not good for the rest of February either but hopefully by the time March arrives it will be drier. If the ground is still soggy try not to get on it too much, it won’t hurt to leave things until the ground is more friable. However spring should be with us by the middle of March when it is time to get busy in the Garden.
Lift, divide and replant snowdrops and winter aconites in the green, together with other clumps of herbaceous perennials that you want to propagate. Divide Hostas before they come into leaf. It is now time to plant summer-flowering bulbs, especially lily bulbs which can be started in individual 10-20cm pots then planting later in groups into larger containers.
Plant new perennials including primulas, pansies and violas, watering them well in. Sow sweet peas outdoors if the weather is favourable and plant out autumn sown sweet peas. Seed sowing should now be in full swing. Most of the bedding plants that need early sowing, such as lobelias and petunias, require extra heat to encourage speedy germination.
Plant out lily of the valley crowns also gladiolus.
This month is your last chance for pruning shrubs and roses, dividing perennials, sowing tender plants and mulching fruit trees. Old fashioned roses and types that flower only once should not be pruned now. They should be pruned lightly in summer, immediately after they have flowered. Spray them against black spot as soon as the leaves have begun to emerge. Cut off the old flower heads from hydrangeas that have been left on for protection.
Cover the soil with a generous layer of compost, manure, mushroom compost or bark. Leave feeding until next month if the weather is still very cold, as any new growth will be damaged by frost.
It is now the final time to plant shrubs and fruit trees before next autumn. Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced fertilizer like blood fish and bone, for example. Prune shrubs such as Buddleia davidii that flowered on last year’s stems cutting them back to one or two buds. Clip over autumn and early winter heathers with shears to remove old flowers (do not cut into the woody part). Prune out old wood from winter jasmine. Cut out any winter-damaged or diseased shoots on evergreens.
Plant strawberries in well prepared soil. Mulch around raspberry canes with compost or manure. Raspberry canes planted this season should be cut back to about eight inches from the soil. If gooseberry bushes have not been pruned do this now cutting back leaders by a third and prune side shoots to two buds. Pollinate outdoor peaches, nectarines and apricots and spray them to control peach leaf curl. Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost.
Sow tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, aubergines and peppers to grow in the greenhouse. Sow broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, leeks, lettuces, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips outdoors if weather permits. If the ground is too wet and difficult to work leave it for a few days until it has dried enough to be handled. Plant early potatoes, rhubarb, shallots and onion sets and autumn sown cauliflowers.
Spike and scarify lawns. Make new lawns from turf. Make the first cut on lawns if it is dry enough and begin regular mowing. To start with mow with blades no lower than one inch.