Ready, Steady, Go!
The end of February has to be my favouritest(!) part of the year. The Winter is over; bulbs are flowering (or beginning to poke through the soil), days are noticeably longer and lighter and my 'gardening pangs' are going into overdrive.
I have never really been a Winter gardener. I know that magazines fill their pages with 'easy jobs' to do in the Winter months interspersed with atmospheric shots of Yew topiary wrapped in sparkling hoar frost and earnest garden journalists saying how important it is to refill your peanut dispensers for the poor birds. Unfortunately, I can never get excited about Winter gardening, I sit in my study (old garage) and look longingly out of the window until the buds of Spring begin to show.
This is not just because I am lazy and would rather be reading by a roaring fire drinking hot chocolate than trudging through the Siberian tundra that is my garden in January. All of us need a break - the Winter months are the time I sit back and start to think about what my garden will look like the following year. I also now have the confidence to know that nothing serious will happen if I leave it until March to mulch, prune and dig.
It's probably wishful thinking, but the weather definitely seems to be warming up a little and you should be able to actually enjoy working in your garden soon. I would recommend however that you don't try to do too much immediately, double digging half an acre might be much too much, much too soon! First, check all the nooks and crannies of your garden and some of the higher branches to check no damage has been caused by all the wind and snow we had this year. Once you are happy with the condition of the garden, have a good long look to see what needs to be done - try to make a list of the jobs that need doing and then work through them methodically. If you follow this advice you will avoid rushing around like a headless chicken, doing lots of little jobs without doing anything properly.
February and March is the time when garden tools should shine! With the threat of night frosts still very real, it is still too early for planting and so your Silky Saw, Felco secateurs, Bahco loppers, Bulldog fork and Haemmerlin wheelbarrow should be your constant companions!
Finally, now is the time to dream. My thoughts are turning to rows of tulips, creamy Magnolia grandiflora, arching ferns, bright blue Ceanothus, sticky buds and lush green lawns. I also look forward to garden visits, the sea of crowds at the Chelsea flower shows, meetings at Wisley and picnics in the long grass at Hampton Court (I can hear garden journalists around the country sharpening their pencils in anticipation!). In reality there will be thunder, rain, lightening, floods and probably a touch of pestilence, but right now I can't think about all that - I'm raring to ready, steady, go!
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