The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
~ Gertrude Smith Wister (1905–1999)
In February 1587 Mary Queen of Scots lost her head and in 1958 the first parking meters appeared in London. For these and many other reasons, February is not a well-loved month. It tends to be cold, its dark, dank and damp, a month when many wish they could burrow under the duvet and hibernate. But looking on the bright side, February brings Valentine’s Day and is the shortest month of the year. March and spring will soon be here! The daylight hours are lengthening and here in Devon at least, the verges are littered with cheery primroses and brave daffodils are nodding their highlighter pen yellow heads.
Feedback from the Suttons Spring 2019 Garden Catalogue has been excellent – thank you. Many customers are clearly enjoying the depth and breadth of our range. The Pick & Mix Offer on plug plants where you can buy 3 packs for just £6 is proving unsurprisingly popular. If you haven’t yet received a copy of this catalogue, then view online or request a free copy now.
If the weather allows you to do nothing else this month try and complete the following gardening jobs:
- Tackle weeds now and your summer workload will be much reduced. Just take care where you step to avoid any bulbs brave enough to be poking their noses up.
- Prune hybrid tea and shrub roses this month. They will flower on this season’s stems so prune them hard, cutting just above a bud and removing all weak, damaged and crossing stems.
- Lily bulbs planted now, in containers, will have plenty of time to grow in preparation for a magnificent display in summer.
- Sow sweet peas – no summer garden is complete without them.
- Pot up your over-wintered dahlia tubers to start them into growth.
- Order Suttons summer bedding plug plants now, taking advantage of the Pick & Mix offers.
- Tidy up your pots and containers by gently removing the top few centimetres of soil and replacing with fresh compost.
- Buddleia can be pruned hard this month, cutting right back to a pair of healthy buds.
- Cut back the stems of late-flowering clematis.
- Dig over your vegetable patch, removing any perennial weeds.
Last summer was wonderful in many ways but certainly put pressure on our water supply. Now is the time to start storing water in preparation for these possibly very dry summer months ahead. No point waiting until it stops raining!
According to the Environment Agency “In an average summer gardeners could harvest nearly 640 litres of rainwater from a 7ft by 5ft shed – which, depending on the weather, could keep up to 50 tomato plants happy for three months. The sooner you get a water butt installed, the more you can save.”
If you already have water butts rigged up to your down pipes, then now is the time to give them a clean and then to allow them to refill. If you don’t, then perhaps now is the time to review and invest. Water butts don’t have to be ugly, as proven by our attractive 250 litre Barrique Water Tank, styled on an oak barrel. But they don’t have to be expensive either, you can view the full range here.
Petunias remain one of our favourite bedding plants. Reliable and showy they flower over a long period with little care needed apart from some easy deadheading.
For 2019 we have an exciting new variety, Petunia Evening Scentsation F1. Sweetly scented throughout the day the perfume intensifies in the evening. Not only is this the most fragrant petunia we’ve come across here at Suttons, the flowers are stunning too, changing through different shades of indigo as they age.
With a low growing, spreading habit, Evening Scentsation is well suited to pots and containers but also is good ground cover. If you only grow one petunia this summer, then we suggest this be the one.
And the Sowing Begins
February is the start of the sowing season. Hopefully you followed our advice last month and gave your seed trays and pots a good clean, so they are now ready for action. If not, now’s the time!
Sow under cover
Indoor cropping plants can be sown this month, e.g. tomatoes, chillies, peppers, etc. But if in doubt wait. It’s still very early and seeds sown in March will quickly catch up.
If the soil is dry and workable then now is the time to start sowing broad bean seeds, direct in the ground. Put supports in place now, before growing starts and give the sown seeds a good drink. By late May you’ll be enjoying a tasty harvest.
Love is in the Air
Are you looking for a cheeky little something to pop inside your partner’s Valentine’s Day card? Well, how about a packet of flower seed? Cheap, fun and sure to raise a smile – the perfect token gift.
Love Lies Bleeding
Echinacea Mixed Feelings
Viola Funny Face
If you have been out into the garden recently you may have noticed one or two bees already buzzing about. On the slightly warmer winter days honey bees will the leave the confines of their warm cosy hives in the search of food, but sources of pollen and nectar can be hard to find at this time of year.
A huge number of flowers and vegetables rely on insects such as bees for pollination and as gardeners there is something relatively simple that we can do to keep the bees buzzing until Spring when there will be an abundance of flowers for them to choose from.
Planting flowers such as Aubretia or Primula vulgaris, whose bright flowers will act as beacons to the bees, will provide a much needed source of food in early spring when there is little else around. Not only that but they will add a splash of colour to your outside space while you wait for the rest of the flowers to wake up after winter.