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February

Garden work for February.

Flower garden

Towards the end of the month dogwoods that have the lovely wood stems in brilliant reds and yellows should be coppiced, to encourage new growth for the next winter show.  Usually I am cautious and only cut about one-third to one half, but if you are brave, have a go and do the whole bush.

If you sow sweet peas in mid-February (in a greenhouse) they will produce plants to flower later in the summer.

Purple Buddleia davidii should be pruned towards the end of the month.  You will be well rewarded provided you prune quite severely, but always leave at least 3 or 4 buds for the fresh growth, in case there are late frosts.

Keep an eye out for slug and snail damage on emerging plants, as this will cause severe damage.  Use appropriate control measures.  Delphiniums are especially prone to attack.

It is important to practice good hygiene, crop rotation and ensure that a minor infestation does not become a plague by taking early action.  One action that can be taken by rose growers is to make sure that all dead leaves from the previous year are taken off and removed to be burnt.  Do not put them on the compost heap as this will only continue the cycle of black spot.

Consider starting some annual flowering plants such as larkspur, cornflower, godetia, clarkia and calendula under cloches.  With care, they could be in bloom early and provide those lovely cut flowers in June.

Trim back winter flowering heathers as the blooms fade, with shears to prevent them from getting overgrown and straggly.

Vegetables

As the buds on the gooseberry bushes begin to swell, they will become ever more attractive to bullfinches and other birds, so give them some protection.  Ideally, they should be protected by a fruit cage.  Alternatively use the old trick of straining black cotton thread from branch to branch over the bushes.

Any seedbeds that have been protected under cloches or garden fleece can be started to be sown with hardy vegetables such as parsnips.  You can also start to consider sowing some early cabbage and brussel sprouts.  Divide and replant chives towards the end of the month.

In sheltered areas, crops such as onions, peas, lettuce and radish can be sown with suitable protection – either under cloches or heavyweight fleece.

Rhubarb clumps should be lifted and divided in February.  Tomato seed should be sown in greenhouses with appropriate heat to get them germinated.

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