Gardening coach: February 2016
PUBLISHED: 16:04 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:04 03 February 2016
Judy Shardlow’s horticultural advice for the month
February can be a low point in the year, which is why it’s important to do at least one life-affirming gardening job this month. The following are basically a prescription for physical and mental wellbeing. Do these now and you’ll soon be boasting about how green-fingered you are.
Start by sowing some delicious pea shoots. Soak dried peas in warm water and sow into a tray of seed compost. Within days, fresh, green ready-to-eat pea shoots of goodness will be poking through the soil. Cut and add to salads and risottos and you’ll boost your healthy-eating credentials as well as your gardening ones.
Next, plant a small tree or shrub, like the lovely Pearl Bush (Exochorda × macrantha ‘The Bride’), which will burst into stunning arches of white blossom in April.
Finally, do a bit of mulching, but do be careful to avoid emerging bulbs. Start with an area closest to the house and lay 5-10cm of composted bark over any bare soil, taking care not to cover dormant perennials. Then go indoors and make yourself a nice cup of tea and admire your handiwork from the window.
You may be on a health drive but you can still indulge in the gorgeous new Hellebore ‘Harvington double chocolate’ which flowers from February to April.
Perennial grasses like miscanthus can be cut to the ground by the end of January before new green growth begins.
Wisterias are pruned in two stages. In February, it’s time to prune back whippy stems to two buds to maximise flowering in July.
Divide winter aconites
Beautiful butter-yellow winter aconites can be dug up and divided after flowering, but leave the foliage in place to die back naturally.
Ordering flower seeds now, such as the wonderful rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’, to sow indoors in March, will get your garden off to a great start as spring arrives.
Judy Shardlow is an RHS award-winning garden designer and coach