Part two of my 2018 Garden Journal sees us still freezing cold and struggling to get time in the garden.
I opened my February entries by noting, “February is the month when we feel that the quality of the light improves and makes us feel better and there are definite signs of the days lengthening. Early bulbs begin flowering and others are showing strong leaf growth.”
I next sought out another quote from Dan Pearson’s book, “Natural Selection” and was pleased to find this one, “Making room for the winter garden is every bit as important as managing a garden that draws your attention in the dark months.”
Turning over to the next double page spread I write about newly acquired plants.
“It is always an enjoyable time planting newly acquired plants but it is an extra-special experience doing so in February. We were delighted to find good healthy specimens of two fastigiate plants, a Taxus baccata “Fastigiata Robusta” and an Ilex crenata “Fastigiata”. The only two fastigiate plants we have already established at Avocet are a Berberis and an Oak, Berberis thunbergia fastigiata atropurpurea “Helmond Pillar” , (a tall thin shrub with a long thin name!” and Quercus palustris “Green Pillar” which despite its name is grown for its deep red autumn colour.”
“We also recently planted a Viburnum with a very different growth habit to our fastigiate purchases. It is a low growing shrub with a very open, airy growth and sweetly scented flowers in April. It is also described as “almost evergreen”, so we will wait and see exactly how ours behaves. We already have a good collection of Viburnums around our Avocet patch.”
Some of my watercolour sketches of Hellebores and details of their petals feature on the next page.
“Hellebores peak in February adding a richness with the deep reds and purples as well as cheeriness with their yellow flowers.”
“I love turning up each flower to reveal its beauty, its colours and markings of spots and streaks.”
On the opposite page I looked at some of our grasses with winter interest and share some photos of them.
“In late February we begin to cut down “deciduous” grasses, choosing the right time to avoid cutting through this year’s new growth. Evergreen grasses especially varieties of Carex come into their own especially when partnered with evergreen foliage plants such as ferns, bergenias and arums.”
Moving on to the final double page spread for February, I considered coloured stemmed Dogwoods and a look at roses as they give their final points of interest before they are pruned and begin to grow anew for this year.
“The coloured stems of Dogwoods add so much colour to the winter borders. We use them to catch the rays of the low sun which helps them to glow and liven up our garden.”
I finished off my February journal entries by featuring roses and a very special plant, special because it is a dogwood that occurred in our garden as a chance seedling of Midwinter Fire crossed with one of our other Cornus plants. We have grown it on and now take lots of cuttings hoping to bulk it up. We hope to be able then to sell them at our open days. Very exciting!
I wrote, “Our Cornus Midwinter Fire throws up new plants from runners and occasionally a few from seed. The runners are identical to the parent plant but the seedlings can vary a lot. We pot the seedlings on and then plant them out on our allotment plot to allow us to identify “star plants”. We have one which is far redder than its parents and has better autumn colour. We are propagating these (see below). We have named it Cornus “Arabella’s Crimson” after our granddaughter.”
My final page is about roses and yellow flowers of the February garden. The yellow flowers are Jasminum nudiflorum, Cornus mas and a pale yellow rose bud. I wrote “Sparkling spots of yellow flowers brighten up the February weather, fighting against this month’s greys.”
“Late February is the time when we begin pruning our bush roses in readiness for the new growing season. We always find wrinkled rose hips and even the odd flower bud.
“Next month is one we really look forward to. Already by mid-February light values have improved, but soon Spring may begin to creep in!”