February Gardener


Science for the Gardener Book out now on all major book websites !!  Enjoy. There is something for everyone to look over and have a light hearted read with many illustrations. 

Plant Evolution .Flowering Plants .Feeding the world.Plants for Industry.Some Plant Medicines .Plant Naming .Importance of Soil.Growth .Reproduction .What plant Where -Adaptation.Pests and Diseases.The Growing debate .The Good news .



Spring is in the air.  Narcissus (daffodils) and crocus are popping their heads up – Winter aconite (Eranthis hyamelis), fragrant Hyacinths, even tulip bulbs are showing green shoots, Alliums and Anemonies are just beginning to peep out of the soil, it really is an exciting time of year. Sarcococca – Christmas Box is very fragrant not keen on sun !, early flowering red Camellia a great pleasure on a cold February walk around your garden and don’t forget winter honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima with very fragrant white and yellow flowers. Hellebores and Pullmonaria will soon be emerging adding some welcome colour.  Bees just love Pullmonaria so search for them to plant you will be rewarded with pollinators .

In the Kitchen Garden  Plant bare root fruit and cane fruit trees if soil is warm.  Fruit trees such as apple and cherry should be planted in pairs for vital pollination. Leave plenty of room for growth and add organic matter for the roots to establish over 6 to 12 months.  Add lime to  brassica beds, plant shallots and sow peas in the greenhouse. It is vital to avoid club root infection of related brassica vegetables   Re-pot clumpy mint and leggy over-wintered herbs.

How content are you with your garden  What do you really want to achieve re look at the January 2018  gardener for timely reminders . Will a simple plan enable you to make changes and improvements and provide interesting ideas for thought and discussion? Was last year’s gardening experience up to expectation?  Can you remember ideas you thought might motivate you to make those exciting changes you always wanted to?  It’s not too late to make decisions for the coming gardening year – a good plant search may be required to add to your planting for spring and summer.

Garden centres offer the plants that can be put in to your beds now and which are constantly changing with the season so it’s well worth a pleasant trip out each month to help with planning, plant choices and to enjoy a good cuppa and slice of cake!

Structural and planting changes for your garden.  Do you want to create more space?  Do some raised beds need adding, especially if growing tap root vegetables, the Umbelliferae – Apiaceae family, parsnips, celery etc require depth which also helps to stop deadly carrot fly attacking storage organs on the soil surface.

Soil  and feeding – Acid Alkali or Neutral – try to do a pH check with an inexpensive testing kit.  Take a small sample of soil, add some distilled water and shake then use the indicator to see what soil pH you have.  Also is it sandy or clay or is it nice and mixed and crumbly as demonstrated in detail  last month  Add plenty of fresh compost and manure especially to Rose beds – your plants will soon respond.  I especially recommend slow release fertiliser granules from February onwards as soil starts to warm up, then add liquid feed before and during flowering .

Plant size – consider height, size, light and, often omitted, space for air circulation.  Also, often forgotten, the spread of plants.  Shrubs are small trees so plan and prune carefully but not until after  flowering.

The tough but attractive white flowers of Cerastium (Snow in summer) complement the white flowering bracts of Cornus canadensis and provide good ground cover for especially difficult areas.

Garden centres now sell attractive climbers for early –midand late summer , which lift colour and leaf  up above all the other plants and can be used for covering and shimming up unsightly objects

Containers can be used successfully for bulbs, summer flowering bedding plants and annuals. Try some vegetables such as new potatoes  in a deep container if you haven’t done so before, as well as specimen standard shrubs and tender plants.  Containers can be moved around to achieve the best position, but do so before adding water as they become too heavy.  Keep them well watered during hot weather and add water crystals before going away.  They do work well!!

Coloured pictures of some of the plants mentioned are available to view free on the Scienceforthegardener website archives .   Every month you will find a wide range of garden science information. The website is now also available as a Secondary Science Resource on the RHS School Gardening website.

Get ready for the gardening off ,enjoy,and dont forget my long awaited book is out now on all major book websites internationally . 

Tony Arnold MCIHort