As we say goodbye to the cold, dark days of January and start to move into February, there are signs in the garden that spring is on its way.
Bulbs have begun to appear, dormant plants are starting to show their first green shoots and snowdrops are flowering.
While the weather can still be cold and wet over the coming few weeks, if the sun shines days can be warm and pleasant. Whatever the weather, there is lots you can do at this time of year to start preparing your garden for spring.
February is a good month to start off seeds on a warm, light windowsill or greenhouse. For hints and tips on what to grow when, check out this seed sowing guide from Gardener’s World.
You can sow sweet peas and summer bedding plants such as cosmos, dahlias and snapdragons now but keep them in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
If you want to ‘grow your own’ this year, start now by sowing tender crops such as tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and chillies, but you’ll need to use a heated propagator or again keep them on a warm sunny windowsill.
Salad seeds and herbs including rainbow chard, rocket, parsley and coriander can also be sown now under cover.
Prune back into shape
Pruning is a key gardening task. As well as preventing plants from becoming too large and unwieldy, cutting plants back and removing dead or diseased foliage helps encourage new growth.
Wisteria is one plant that can get out of control quite quickly – cut back side shoots to three buds from the base to encourage abundant flowers in spring. Buddleia and elder also need hard pruning to the base to keep them to a reasonable size.
Other plants to prune this month include late-summer flowering clematis and winter-blooming shrubs such as mahonia, winter jasmine and heathers, but only once they’ve finished flowering.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website has a handy beginner’s guide to pruning to help you get to grips with your trees, hedges and shrubs.
Clean and tidy…
February is a good month to get organised for the busy spring and summer months ahead.
If your greenhouse glass is looking a little less than clear, give it a good wash with warm, soapy water. Clean glass will ensure your seedlings receive as much light and warmth as possible over the coming weeks. Gardener’s World has a step-by-step ‘how to…’ guide available online.
Hose down and/or scrub patios and paths to clear them of moss and mud.
Check and clean garden equipment such a trowels and spades, seed trays and flowerpots. Now is a good time to check your lawn mower and book it in for a service ready for the first grass cut in a few weeks’ time.
Look after the wildlife by installing nesting boxes, ideally in sheltered spots, and replenish bird feeders regularly. Defrost and refill bird baths to ensure there is a regular supply of water.
Whatever jobs need doing, a few hours spent outside in the fresh air in the garden or greenhouse is good for your physical and mental health.
So, wrap up warm and make the most of your time outdoors in the crisp air and wintery sunlight as you plan ahead for warmer days. We’d love to hear your top winter gardening tips for getting your garden ‘spring ready’.