Gardening Tips - Prepare your garden for Spring
PUBLISHED: 00:34 27 January 2014
Exciting times are ahead as winter comes to an end and the growing season arrives, says head gardener Suzie Hanson
February can be a tricky month for gardeners. There is a chance of unseasonably warm weather to confuse spring bulbs into spurting into growth only to be covered in heavy snow the next day. However there will be signs of spring approaching and with them many jobs to do both in and out of doors.
It is a good time to get stuck into dividing your herbaceous plants. If you missed out on doing this in autumn not to worry, now is just as good a time. This can be done by either chopping up a densely rooted plant with a spade or for a more fibrous rooted plant use two border forks placed in the middle of the clump back to back to lever it apart. The ideal clump size would be the size of your fist. Remove any damaged or rotten roots then plant or pot up straight away to avoid the roots drying out.
Winter flowering border plants such as hellebores can have their leaves removed this month which will help the flowers stand out in an otherwise colourless time of year for the garden. This is also good plant management as hellebore leaf spot can be a problem on old foliage.
At Brodsworth we wait in anticipation for the fabulous display of snowdrops. The delicate white flowers are a welcome sight to any hardy gardener who has braved the winter. With approximately half a million snowdrops (and counting) on the property we are busy lifting and dividing clumps so as to encourage stronger bulbs that will spread as they naturalise. February is the perfect time for this job as the snowdrops are still ‘in the green’ which makes it easier for us to locate the clumps before the leaves die back and they disappear until next year. Once lifted, the clumps can be divided by a pair of garden forks or by hand if the soil is loose enough.
If you want to introduce snowdrops to your garden they can be bought by mail order in the green. Beware it is easy to get drawn into the world of snowdrops and become a galanthophile - a person who loves all things snowdrop (galanthus is the Latin name). These enthusiasts are fanatical in their search for rare snowdrops and will pay relatively huge amounts of money for these diminutive plants.
Lawns are a massive part of our gardens at Brodsworth and it is essential we care for them. For those with an established lawn, scarify and spike now. Clear any leaves off, as in damp weather they can harbour fungus beneath and you’ll end up with a yellow lawn. Mushrooms and toadstools may also appear. Some gardeners like to see them and others class them as a problem. If the latter is the case then you can either brush or mow them away. However, if you leave them they will bring a bit of magic to you’re garden; you may even see a fairy!
If you are thinking of seeding a new lawn in spring then you need to be preparing the ground now. Dig the area over making sure you remove all perennial weeds. Leave the soil clumpy and rough as the frosty weather will break it down.
Here at Brodsworth we will also be checking on our alpine beds. The beds contain 200 different plants that have been chosen because they represent the places in the world that the Thellusson family of Brodsworth Hall visited on their travels. We have plants that are usually found in Asia, America and Europe so as you can imagine some struggle to make it through the British winter without regular attention. It is essential to remove dead leaves from around the basal rosettes of alpine plants to prevent rotting then top dress with grit or gravel to show off the plants and keep away excess moisture.
I find this a really exciting time. It’s when you realise that winter is coming to an end and the growing season is ahead. What will the year bring? I am still getting to know the gardens at Brodsworth Hall and I look forward to finding all its gems in the coming months.
Jobs for February
Dahlia tubers can be started into growth. Place them in a light, warm place to begin sprouting before planting on. Mist with a spray-bottle to avoid drying out
Sow hardy annuals
Take root cuttings
Cut back ornamental grasses and perennials left for winter interest
Dead head winter pansies to extend their flowering period
After flowering prune winter flowering shrubs
Brodsworth Hall is a beautiful country house surrounded by a collection of grand gardens in miniature, lovingly restored to their Victorian splendour.
For more information contact
Brodsworth Hall & Gardens
Facebook page BrodsworthHall