What To Do In February
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Blue Monday was created back in 2007 by a television channel devoted to travel. Originally a publicity campaign, this supposedly depressing day combines a combination of anti-climatic feelings post Christmas and dark, dismal weather conditions. Mocked by academics as pseudo-science, the day took hold and now seems to be a permanent fixture in the calendar. The actual day changes from year to year, being the third Monday in January - this year it was Monday 29th January 2018. Hopefully you managed to beat the blues, by holing up in your greenhouse with some seed catalogues, a mug of something warming and a nice cosy heater. But Blue Monday has well and truly gone for this year, so put your best wellies forward and face February with a smile!
It may be late winter, and although the weather can be super-chilly with snow and ice being common deterrents to getting out in the garden, if you look carefully, the promise of spring is already emerging. Week by week, more flowers start to bloom; if you're lucky you'll be blessed with snowdrops, heather, hellebores and maybe a few shoots of delightful winter-flowering cherry. Take in a few snippets for the house and combine with some evergreen foliage, such as holly, Pittosporum, Euphorbia (look out for the sap!) or some amazing red Cornus twigs. Winter need never suffer from a lack of colour, or fragrance for that matter. If you don't have any winter scent in your garden, make it a must for your 'to do' list, Daphne, sweet box or witch hazel are all worth seeking out.
It's all about sowing seeds this month if you want an early show of glorious annual blooms in the garden this year. And, good to get started with your veggie seeds for indoors and outdoors. Continue to water with care and once the days start to get longer, give more water to most plants.
Make the most of any flowers in the greenhouse, but watch out for nasty pests and be vigilant about removing their hiding places, spent flowers and dead leaves. And look out for warmer days, when the greenhouse would benefit from extra ventilation. About now you could also think about turning on your automatic vents if you turned them off for the winter.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Watching out for Wildlife
Keep your feathered friends fit and healthy by continuing to feed, and tidy up any debris beneath the bird feeders to keep rodents at bay.
If you'd like to encourage Brimstone butterflies to your garden in the spring, plant some alder buckthorn now, especially on wet clay soil. Their scientific name is Gonetpteryx rhamni and it's thought the word 'butterfly' originates from the buttery, yellow colour of the male Brimstone. The female wings are very pale green, almost looking white, whereas the males have yellow upper wings and yellow/green underwings. What a lovely creature to see emerging on warm spring days, and knowing that its existence has coined the word 'butterfly' makes it even more special!
Most small mammals stay mainly inactive during the cold winter months, only venturing out for food during particularly mild spells. However, the common shrew is a greedy feeder and will forage in all weathers. They love some nice tasty snails and woodlice and although they do also consume some garden-friendly insects, in the main they are considered to be a gardener's friend.
While you're watching out for wildlife, take time to observe the earliest Crocus chrysanthus hybrids, bringing clumps of colours to the winter landscape and start looking ahead to warmer climes, while you plant your lily bulbs in borders or pots.