Its February and its still feeling pretty cold outside! But signs of the new season are at last starting to show with bulbs spearing through the ground bringing with them the excitement and knowledge that winter won’t last forever.
The emergence of bulbs can be a reminder that beds need clearing, the remnants of last years perennials and leaves often still remain across the borders (i like to keep them here across the winter, as they break down and benefit the plant for the coming year as well as improving the soil’s humus content). But by this time of year most of foliage and stems have rotted into the underlying soil and where new life is showing it is a good idea to clear its way.
Tips for the garden
Cutting and clearing: With your secateurs or garden knife start cutting away last year’s growth from the perennials, cutting as close to the base of the plant as possible. By performing this job at this time of year, before the crowns of the plants have started to grow too much it means that you will be able to cut nice and close.
Removing the debris: All the plant waste that you gather up from the borders should be gathered up and put on the compost heap rather than being burned as ecologically they provide and excellent habitat for many much needed garden insects. Once cleared the beds can be raked clean in order to be prepared for the spring mulching as well as making space for the emerging bulbs.
Clearing the weeds: After this clear up you may discover weeds so you can take the time to remove any of these before they begin to establish.
Mulching: This may be done at the back end of the month when the ground beings to warm a little more and the ground is weed free, but once your bulbs have come through it may be beneficial to apple some organic much to the ground before they grow to their full height.
Sowing: It may seem early but many slow growing annuals and perennials can be sown now if you have warm window sills or a greenhouse, this is a really cost effective way of producing plants for your garden for the upcoming seasons.
Plant Roses: From the middle of the month onwards it is an ideal time to plant any new rose bushes, however the pruning of rose bushes should be left till March.
Pruning: If you have not already pruned your grapevines do so now to prevent ‘bleeding’, pruning the lateral shoots back to one of two buds; this same pruning method is required for any Wisteria that has also not undergone pruning. Buddleja should also be pruned, cutting the plant back to within a couple of buds of the old wood, if your buddleja has become out of control, then do not be afraid to really cut the plant back hard, as they are very hardy plants! Certain summer flowering clematis should also be pruned this time of year (group 2 & 3), make sure you know which group your clematis are is to ensure that you do not cut back spring flowering clematis.
Making plans: If your garden is looking tired and flat this time of year it may well be due to the lifeless form of the plants that comes naturally with this time of year; but it can also be good time of year to take a good look at your garden space. Whether the garden needs revitalising though some simple additions or planting design or you may well be sitting on an uninspiring space or blank canvas that could be transformed for the coming summer through a well informed garden design. The winter months are a fantastic time to start planning a garden design so that your garden can be both planned and implemented all ready for enjoyment across the summer months!