Our garden expert Phil McCann will be keeping us informed about what's he's been up to each week in his garden with his Gardener's Diary. From how he's dealt with the weather each week brings to keeping an eye on that bird food theif, keep up to date with Phil and his gardening right here.
He'll also be keeping us up to date with all the gardening events which will be happening over the country, check in his diary and below to see what's happening near you this week. Keep an eye out, you may spot Phil there too!
Gardening events this week:
11th January - 10th March - RHS Lindley Library - Pigments and Petals exhibition
14th January - 5th March - RHS Garden Wisley - Butterflies in the Glasshouse
Find a Snowdrop garden in your area here.
Top tips for February:
- Divide overcrowded bunches of snowdrops.
- Prune winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering.
- Prune wisteria back to a strong framework of stems.
- Net over all winter crops to stop bird damage.
- Start chitting seed potatoes.
- Protect blossom on peach trees.
- Prune evergreen hedges.
- Rake level vegetable beds.
- Rake out dead leaves from evergreen grasses.
- Lawn casts on lawns can be swept on dry days.
Phil's tip of the week:
“Some of the first seeds of the year can be sown in heated propagators in greenhouses. Pelargoniums are beautiful plants and, if started off now, will produce flowers earlier. Lobelia can go in now, along with sweet peas and antirrhinums.”
February in a nutshell:
How many more pages on the calendar before Spring? One! Yes, February is the final month of dark mornings, cold nights and thinking that all is under control in the garden. However organised you are, spring, in one page's time, will bring a whole load of activity – so enjoy the comparative calm of the final throes of winter. But saying that, there is still a whole shed load of stuff to be doing. Potatoes won't grow themselves (although actually one year I got a crop from a potato peeling I lobbed into the compost bin; it grew and produced some beautiful tubers!) Play safe and get certified virus free seed potatoes and get them started into growth. This is called 'chitting' and all you need are quality seed potatoes, an egg box or two and a frost-free, bright windowsill / greenhouse/ shed. Frost-free is the key. Place the seed potatoes with the end with most of the little buds (or 'eyes') facing up in each of the compartments in the egg box. The eyes will start to grow. You are aiming for stubby little shoots (lots of light and as cool as you can without freezing will do the trick). Planting out is much later in spring but you've got to get them growing now.
February can be a nasty little month with poor weather. If it is freezing, the chances are you will be spreading some rock salt or grit on your pathways and patios. Be careful where you flick the little pieces of rock – the salt content is obviously high and it can damage plants, especially the early foundling primroses and daffodils. Take care of your plants as there's a long growing year ahead.
If you haven’t already done so, get warming the soil in your veg plot. A few cloches placed firmly over the soil will help bring the temperature up to what is expected by seeds. If too cold, and wet, seeds will sit, sulk and be prey for vermin. Get everything ticking over and anything you sow will get growing straight away.
I'll mention again that you should always take time out of your busy days to stop and enjoy what is happening in your own garden or get out and see other gardens. Many have gardens designed for winter interest and some may even have top class collections of winter flowering beauties such as hellebores and early daffodils.