All summer long, The Gardens at Wynyard Hall are a visual feast of vivid flowerbeds, trees and shrubs. They’re all surrounded by perfectly manicured, velvety green lawns. Since brilliant blooms are born in the spring, our gardeners are gearing up to get everything ready for summer. And we thought you might enjoy some tips on how to do the same at home…
Our Top Ten Gardening Tips for February
- Prepare your flower beds. Now is the best time to clear dead perennial vegetable matter from your beds, prune back dead stalks and leaves, and plan which annuals to add. Whether you’re sowing from seed, your own cuttings or a garden centre buy. Soil is best prepared in advance, so give your gardening tools a little clean and get digging.
- How are your winter-flowering shrubs looking? Chances are they’re on the tatty side and have finished their display. Grab some secateurs and prune them back neatly in preparation for the spring sunshine – this helps to encourage lots of healthy new growth.
- Cut ornamental grasses. We expect you’ve left ornamental deciduous grasses to lie over the winter. If so, they’ll need cutting back now or the dead foliage will stifle new spring growth and potentially even cause rot. If you pull the dead stalks gently they’ll come out easily, leaving an airy, clear space for the new blades to grow into.
- Prepare garden vegetables. Start preparing your vegetable seed beds and sow appropriate seeds under cover. This will ensure you are on schedule to harvest garden-fresh produce at the earliest opportunity – home-grown produce that almost tastes of spring itself! The climate is proving tricky this year, and it’s impossible to predict what weather spring will bring, but sowing a variety of veg should ensure at least some of it thrives.
- To chit or not to chit? The gardening experts are split and the jury is out, but if you’re a chitter it’s time to chit those potato tubers in preparation for a bumper harvest of fluffy, tasty spuds.
- Protect delicate blossom. Spring is delightfully unpredictable in the UK. One minute it’s here to stay, the next your garden is covered in a blanket of snow. Brave yet delicate early flowering fruits such as apricots, nectarines and peaches need protection just in case of frost, so cover the blossom with horticultural fleece until all signs of danger have vanished.
- Beware of hungry birds. At this time of year food can be scarce and birds are hungry. If you’re growing fruit and vegetables, it makes sense to net your crops to keep birds at bay. You can also feed your garden birds to discourage them from attacking your produce. Check which birds habitually visit your garden and buy food that’s specially formulated for them.
- Divide your bulbs. Unless of course, like many areas of the country, you’re experiencing an early spring (or a winter that never got too chilly) and they’re already on the way up. We’ve heard reports of snowdrops flowering in the Yorkshire Dales already, and in the south of England the bluebells are in full leaf. If that’s you, it might be best to leave bulb-dividing until next year!
- ‘Prune in’ readiness. If you’re lucky enough to have a delicate, beautiful, gnarly-trunked wisteria at your place, this time of year is the ideal time to prune. The same goes for hardy, evergreen and overgrown, deciduous hedges. Cut them back hard for healthy new growth, and do it now before the birds start nesting. Nesting time could come early this year, so sooner is better than later.
Your conservatory climbers will also be ripe for pruning. They ‘know’ the season even under glass, and will be quietly preparing themselves for this year’s brilliant display.
- Seeing the wood for the trees. This is the best time of year for looking at your garden and seeing where improvements can be made. The lack of leaves makes it very clear where you need to prune, cut back, add more plants or dig up and re-plant existing ones.
Once you’ve done all that, you deserve a treat! Stop by the café for a nice cuppa. We have lost of lovely gardening tools and books that might set you on your way too!