As the shortest month of the year, February holds the promise of spring while still…
A riot of colour pervades gardens at this time of the year as perennials and annuals compete for attention. The soft fragrance of roses, sweet Williams, sweet peas, lilies and dianthus is everywhere, while the spicy scent of the curry plant adds a contrasting note.
Warm sunny days encourage gardeners to relax and enjoy the beautiful plants around them, yet there is always work to be done. Dead head flowers regularly to encourage repeat flowering but make sure you know which type of roses you have in your garden. Old rose varieties such as Damasks, Gallicas and Moss roses will develop beautiful hips by the autumn if the dead flowers are left in place. Floribundas, hybrid teas and other modern roses will provide at least one more flush of flowers if not more before the season is over if the dead flowers are removed.
Other flowering shrubs such as forsythia and Choisya (also known as the mock orange) can be gently pruned back after flowering as they can grow quite tall.
The soft fruit season is now well underway and raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, white and red currents will quickly be ready for harvesting together with later crops of strawberries. Bushes should be checked daily as the fruit can ripen very fast, especially after periods of sunshine and showers.
In the vegetable garden, salad crops and the first fresh root crops of baby turnips, beetroot and carrots will be appearing. Thinning out root crops by removing some of the young plants will provide tasty crops for the table, while giving space for other vegetables to grow to their full size.
Fresh crops of radishes and lettuce should be sown regularly to provide ongoing crops throughout the autumn. Make sure that these crops are watered during dry periods to decrease the risk of bolting – this is where the vegetables shoot up and provide flower heads rather than the leaves and roots that are required for eating