January/February might be the middle of winter but as the days lengthen, the garden starts to grow. Early bulbs are pushing through, leaf buds are swelling and winter flowering shrubs delight us with their gorgeous scent. When planting for winter don’t just think of evergreens, winter bark should be considered, once bare of leaves, attractive tree trunks come into their own, Prunus serrula, pines and birches are particularly striking.

Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Enjoy the fresh air on dry sunny days, and check that your winter protection such stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut, for a little longer, in order to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden. On frosty days make sure that birds and animals have access to unfrozen water and that fish ponds aren’t iced over for too long, a football can be floated in ponds and taken out during the day to create air holes.

For instant colour, plant beds, hanging baskets and pots with pansies, primroses, cyclamen, heuchera, ivies and skimmia.

Winter flowers to look out for:

  • Dwarf Iris
  • Crocus
  • Snowdrop
  • Winter Aconite
  • Hellebore
  • Christmas box
  • Winter Honeysuckle
  • Daphne odorata
  • Viburnum
  • Mahonia
  • Chionodoxa
  • Witch Hazel
  • Erica carnea
  • Wintersweet
  • Clematis cirrhosa
  • Cyclamen
  1. Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch
  2. Clean pots and greenhouses ready for spring
  3. Disperse worm casts in lawns by rubbing with a broom
  4. Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out
  5. Prune apple and pear trees
  6. Start forcing rhubarb
  7. Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season
  8. Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds
  9. Make a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect against peach leaf curl.
  10. Late February prune summer flowering shrubs such as hydranges Buddleja, summer clematis, wisteria and roses

Figure 1: Flowers that are currently growing in my garden (Feb 2020).

This blog was written by Charlotte Howard

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