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What to think about

Everyone knows gardening is seasonal, and so there are no hard and fast rules because seasons vary. What to do in the garden in February also depends where in the country you garden, as different areas can experience very differing weather conditions during the same period.  This means if you garden in the south of England or have a garden which is sheltered, more can be done earlier, but northern gardeners, especially those with exposed plots, may need to leave tasks to late February or Early March. All gardening calendars are just a guide it depends on the weather. Some springs can be very wet or cold and in other years spring can be lovely. As always for gardeners the weather is important.

Prune Cornus

February is a pruning month for Clematis and Wisteria and is really important to keep them flowering. Getting Wisteria to flower is easy if you do the right pruning.

During a mild spell in Feb/March you can prune Cornus, (Dogwood) (image left) which has lovely red stems in the winter. The one illustrated is Cornus Alba 'Sibirica' fully hardy, deciduous and easy to grow in any soil. Pruning in late winter helps to produce the bright winter stems next year. Cut right back almost to ground level and be assured it will re grow in the spring.

Cut back Sedums

The image right shows early growth on a Sedum reminding us what lies ahead. If you haven't already cut the old top growth away now is a good time, cut carefully to avoid damaging the new growth coming through. This can be done on other plants which have last years top growth in place (except the slightly tender) with new shoots coming through. If cutting back is left too late it's harder to cut back without damaging the new growth.

Prune Wisteria

It’s a real pruning month since February is also the time to prune that other tricky climbing plant, Wisteria.  February/March during a mild spell is also the time to prune Buddleia davidii for the best summer flowers

Sow Sweet Peas

February is time to germinate sweet peas which are easy to germinate but quite time intensive to grow.

Sweet peas make a showy addition to the garden, climbing up an obelisk or fence and are great as cut flowers. They do require a fair amount of attention and if you want nice long straight stems you need to know about the tendrils which must be removed to keep the stems straight.

Rosa Rugosa

In February you can also prune Rosa Rugosa, with care, as they have very prickly stems. Take out the oldest shoots at ground level and half of the rest for a good display of flowers and hips later in the year. Rosa Rugosa is one of the plants suitable to grow in a coastal garden.

If you want to tidy up or reduce the size of ever green shrubs you can prune in February. In a mixed border, pruning the lower stems nearer the ground on shrubs lifts the canopy to allow more light for plants close to or under the shrub. Check each plant before pruning and be careful as pruning at the wrong time can result in no flowers. Plants which flower on last year's growth need to be pruned later, after flowering, which is usually later spring/summer not late winter/spring; otherwise you will cut off the stems on which flower buds are forming.

Take care when pruning not to prune early flowering shrubs or you will prevent flowering. Whilst it’s tempting to prune as the garden comes awake and clearing the borders, each shrub is different, and bears checking out individually. Pruning at the wrong time can be the answer as to why a shrub doesn't flower as expected.

Happy Gardening

Camellia

Hellebore

Pulmonaria

Gardening Tips for February (Courtesy of the ‘Sunday Gardener’)

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