Lime green flowers of Corsican hellebore
Corsican hellebore
Helleborus argutifolius


Whatever the weather and the continuing constraints on our normal lives, it is encouraging that spring is getting closer, with bulbs appearing and light levels & temperatures on the increase (but beware the sharp frosts that can still be expected).

Before the new season really takes off, there’s still plenty to be done.  Planting of bare-rooted trees and shrubs, as well as pruning, need to be fitted in before plants come into life, but not when it’s frosty.

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Cut back summer flowering clematis to buds 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) above the ground.
This may seem drastic, but is needed to promote strong new growth that will produce this years flowers.

Large flowered clematis that bloom May-June, by contrast, flower from buds already there on last year’s growth.
So limit any pruning to trimming back stem ends killed off over winter: work down each stem from the top, cutting back to just above the highest healthy bud.

Get your lawn mower ready for the new season with its annual service; even in the lockdown, garden machinery specialists may well offer a collect and return service.

Use time when you can’t work on the garden to overhaul your garden tools, sharpening & cleaning, and oiling wooden handles.

Cut back Winter flowering jasmine
as soon as it stops flowering, to keep it in shape, whilst giving plenty of time for strong new shoots to develop, which willo produce next year’s flowers.

Start stored dahlia tubers into growth Put them in a warm, light place, barely covered with compost, to encourage them to sprout, before taking cuttings or potting them up.
Keep misting them with water using a spray bottle to stop them drying out.

Remove any reverted green shoots on hardy variegated evergreens, such as Eleagnus; otherwise the more vigorous green growth will go on to dominate the variegated foliage, eventually replacing it.

Drifts of snowdrops are the quintessential harbingers of spring. Increase them by dividing them “in the green” now.
It is notoriously difficult to grow them by planting bulbs.

Encourage gladioli corms to sprout by putting them in a light, warm spot (around 10°C), before you get to planting them out.
This will give an earlier display.

Cut deciduous hedges, if not done already, to avoid disturbing birds that will be nesting next month.

Cut back deciduous ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennial left for winter interest or to provide seed for birds in late February or early March – leaving it too late will damage new shoots starting to come through.

Evergreen grasses just need tidying up, combing out any dead material.

Also, check back to January as many of those items are still relevant now.

Wildlife in the garden

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