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The Gardening Coach – February

PUBLISHED: 12:16 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:42 18 February 2014

Hellebores - a perfect antidote to cold February days

Hellebores - a perfect antidote to cold February days

Archant

Judy Shardlow’s top gardening tips for February

Hellebores are the perfect antidote to the cold dark days of winter and spring is the time to find your perfect plant. Whether you prefer pure white, fresh green, shades of pink, burgundy or even apricot, there is just too much choice! If you choose one now, while in flower, you’ll have exactly the colour you prefer.

They are easy plants to grow and their delicate shape and colour will brighten any border. All they need is a spot in semi-shade with rich, moist, neutral soil. Improve soil before planting by adding some well-rotted farmyard manure and top dress with a mulch of leaf mould or more well-rotted manure.

If you like pure white ruffles then stunning Helleborus x hybridus ‘Double Ellen White’ is for you and will illuminate a darker area of border. If you’’re craving a bit of fresh green, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Harvington Lime’ is perfect. Remember that if you plant different colours, they will cross-pollinate over time, giving you a beautiful tapestry of different colours and markings. Hellebore clumps will increase over time and can be divided to increase plant numbers. They also benefit from a sprinkling of pelleted chicken manure at the base of each plant in spring.

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February garden jobs.

Cut back grasses Cut back perennial grasses before new green growth begins and then feed with a sprinkling of bone meal.

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Order potatoes – Home grown potatoes are the best. Choose and order potatoes now for planting once the soil warms up.

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Get ahead of perennial weeds – Tackle perennial weeds now and save hours of frustrating weeding later on. Carefully dig problem areas and remove the roots of bindweed, creeping buttercup and ground elder.
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Prune dogwoods –Prune the older red stems of Cornus (dogwood), bring them indoors and place in water. Within a few days they will burst into leaf. It’s a temporary but beautiful effect.
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Plant snowdrops – Snowdrops can be bought now ‘in the green’ to establish a beautiful display next spring.

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Judy Shardlow is a Herts-based garden coach. 01438 833858

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