February Garden Blog
February has arrived after what has been an incredibly dry January having had just over 13mm of rain here at Grimsthorpe. This is not unusual but when compared to the 121mm of last January it nods towards the uncertain climate we live in. Throughout the ages, weather has been a high topic of conversation, particularly for us as gardeners. In Anglo-Saxon times February was known as Solmonath which is worryingly translated as “mud month”, so there is always a little trepidation as to what weather February may bring. The gardens team have been taking advantage of the dry weather in the gardens though with lots of planting, pruning, and mulching taking place.
February brings lengthening days and spring bulbs with snowdrops, cyclamen and winter aconites providing much needed colour after the winter months. This colour brings anticipation of the season to come, and it is the time that winter plans and aspirations can begin to be implemented. If, like us, you enjoy leaving plants for winter structure and frosted seed heads, it will soon be time to begin tidying to make way for new growth. Try to leave this for as long as possible, for as well as providing winter interest, last years growth can be full of overwintering beneficial insects so let them rest for as long as you can tolerate and compost the material rather than archaically burning.
Snowdrops (Image Copyright Jim Handley)
Steaming compost (Image Copyright Jim Handley)
Once snowdrops have finished flowering it is a good time to split and replant to increase their coverage. If you are introducing them to your garden, now is the time to order plants “in the green” as they will have greater success in establishing. Both snowdrops and aconites like a moist, but not waterlogged soil in a position where they can naturalise undisturbed, and it is also nice to plant some within sight of the house so that they can be enjoyed even on the coldest of days.
If you haven’t done so already, February is a good time to sow Tomatoes and Chillies as they require a long season to produce a generous crop and some successional sowings of Rocket now can bring a touch of the Mediterranean to your plate. Towards the end of the month if you have a protected space and are keen to get going, you can sow a variety of vegetables including Onions, Leeks, Beetroot, and Cabbage ready to be planted out later, and February is also the time to begin chitting Potatoes.
Bountiful crop of Tomatoes (Image Copyright Jim Handley)
Freshly pulled homegrown carrots (Image Copyright Jim Handley)
The benefits of growing your own food are well documented and if you haven’t partaken before in growing your own then I encourage you to do it this year. You do not need a large space; a small corner of the lawn, a raised bed or some pots and containers can produce surprising quantities and I promise you, the joy of pulling your first homegrown carrot or podding your own peas will set you for life!
Whatever your plans for the garden this month, make sure to enjoy them and take a moment to get outside to see the emerging bulbs, swelling buds and lengthening catkins that are appearing all around us, even if Solmonath does come true to form!
Head of Gardens & Landscape.