In favourable areas late winter can be almost spring-like, especially in a mild period, but don’t be lulled into sowing and planting outdoors too soon. If the weather turns cold, seeds will not germinate, and seedlings and plants may receive such a check to their growth that they do not do as well as those sown or planted later. Concentrate your efforts on indoor sowing, but make the most of frames and cloches, too, for early crops.
One way of getting plants off to an early start (tomatoes and lettuces, for example) is to sow them in small plastic containers, clearly labelled, in a heated greenhouse. This means that when the spring temperatures do pick up, they can be moved outside, under cloches especially at night when the temperatures can suddenly drop.
This is also a good time to check the vegetable garden, forking out the roots of perennial weeds. Also continue breaking up heavy lumps on clay soil. If left, the soil will take much longer to heat up in the spring, and the seeds will find it extremely difficult to get off to a flying start.
Throughout February, gardeners stay busy visiting the garden centres for spring planting, at the same time receiving daily deliveries of a wide selection of plants and garden supplies in anticipation of a fabulous gardening season! The garden centres are presently well stocked with cheerful early spring colour and have already received early deliveries of perennials from our local growers. Earliest shipments of trees and shrubs are expected by mid-February.
Although its too early for work in a soggy garden, keen gardeners are busy choosing and starting flower and vegetable seeds indoors or in greenhouses or cold frames, and preparing for mid-February pruning of many trees and shrubs. The garden centres have a full selection of seeds and seed starting supplies available now, and members of our staff of experienced gardeners are available every day of the week, delighted to answer any questions you may have about pruning and early season garden preparation.
As February progresses, there are two notable groups of plants that deserve extra attention – exotic orchids for indoors, and beautiful hellebores for the garden.