February can be a cold month with sleet and biting easterly winds, writes Jackie Power…
However, this year there has been a mix of milder weather – with gales and torrential rain; and occasional cold bright days.
There are welcome signs of growth in the garden – daffodils have suddenly appeared, Prunus (Cherry plum) is in flower; and the birds are becoming more active as light levels slowly increase.
Weather permitting, routine tasks can be carried out; prune fruit trees and other deciduous trees if needed.
This can be done until mid March. When carrying out any form of pruning it is vital to have the correct tools – use secateurs for the thinner stems and a pruning saw for larger branches.
Blunt tools can damage stems which then attract disease. It is worth reading about pruning techniques before attempting this work.
Wear appropriate protective clothing (including gardening gloves, proper foot wear and goggles); if using ladders make sure there is someone to help.
Fruit bushes are planted during the winter months; it is worth finding space to include one or two Raspberry canes or current bushes.
Tidy window box and container displays; add seasonal favourites (hybrid primroses and miniature narcissus (daffodils)) which are available as pot plants in markets and nurseries.
Or buy a flowering house-plant to brighten up February days. Orchids – the Cymbidiums are easy to grow.
They need cool conditions, good light (but not direct sunlight in summer); water every two weeks or weekly if they are in a warmer environment (and during the summer months). The Cymbidiums produce showy flowers on long stems and bloom for weeks.
February sees the beautiful Acacia dealbata or Mimosa tree in bloom. Acacia has feathery evergreen leaves and a profusion of yellow flowers; it is quick growing reaching its maximum height of about 10m within twenty to thirty years.
If there is space for a new tree – choose this one. Garrya elliptica or Silk Tassel Bush is an evergreen shrub; it produces eye catching long silvery catkins during January and February, it is evergreen and tolerant of a range of conditions including semi shaded areas.
Another talented tree – the Witch hazel – is also in bloom, depending on the variety they start to flower from December through to March; the spidery, mostly scented flowers are a joy.