It’s good though, to remind ourselves of what a beautiful season winter is. Looking at trees is one of the keys to surviving these latter dark months, without their leaves and in the all-together they are a truly magnificent sight silhouetted against the low winter sun. Whether it be the prayer-like shape of a hornbeam, the graceful weeping of a birch or the mighty upward curling branches of the mighty oak winter provides the chance to really appreciate these lords of our landscape.
There is, however, nothing wrong with getting excited about the pending arrival of a new growing season, I love the anticipation of spring and of nature coming back to life. Being swept up in the busiest periods of the gardening calendar is enjoyment on a different scale and all of us who will be participating are busy making plans.
Seed catalogues are being perused and their contents purchased, plans drawn up and propagators cleaned off. Peat free potting and seed compost are stacked and ready for action. Seed trays and pots are washed, along with greenhouses and garden sheds cleaned, swept out and organised for the big spring push. A good gardener readies themselves for the change in season and awaits like a coiled spring.
A decent plan on what to grow throughout the year always adds structure to your gardening calendar. Arrange your seeds for a monthly sow, this way you can rotate the use of a propagator, plan what’s going where on your plot, raised beds or pots. If growing veg, remember to rotate the differing crops avoiding growing the same edibles on the same spot for consecutive seasons, using wooden pegs with the crop name painted on them is a great way to keep track.
There is always plenty to do in a garden in February. Pruning is a big job, now is the time to prune fruit trees such as apples in readiness for spring. Also look at all your deciduous plants, the lack of leaves will make it easy to prune out any dead or tangled wood. Don't go mad with the pruning and even tidiness just yet though, herbaceous plants should have their spent foliage left in place and it’s good to have leftover leaves and winter debris undisturbed. Many of our garden creatures will be using these things as cover during the cold months. If you are really chomping at the bit to do some seed sowing, this is a good time to sow both chillies and aubergines particularly toward the latter part of the month; it gives them a great run-up to the season and from a purely selfish point of view seeing those seeds pop through the compost is a heart-warming sight.
Of course, the delights of nature are all around us and non-quite so satisfying to see as the garden birds that are busy feeding at this time of year. A robin pecking away at the feeder on the balcony or bouncing around your feet on the allotment will never fail to lift the spirits.
Don’t forget to look out for the snowdrops and aconites! Happy gardening everybody.