End of Month View: February 2016





For non-gardeners, the dark days of February have little to recommend them. But for the gardener, February can be as full of delights as any of the summer months. From our front window my spirits are lifted by clumps of nodding snowdrops, battalions of iris reticulata, a burst of native primroses and winter heather, primula wanda, cyclamen, hellebores, muscari and skimmia. Pushing their way through the soil are the promise of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Here come my delphiniums and the peonies I planted last summer. Things have survived the winter. Things are coming back. February is a positive, happy month for me.


February is also a month for plentiful gardening tasks. My seed-sowing got under way this month. I also turned out my cold frame on a particularly sunny day and scrubbed down the interior of a year’s worth of grub and mould. I took the opportunity to inspect the inhabitants and revive anything drooping with fresh water. I turned the compost heap, pruned the roses and mulched everywhere with manure.


February is also a time for planning. Which plants need moving? Where are the bare patches? As plants I’d forgotten I owned start to reappear, I am reminded of niggles from last year: lysemichia too close to a rose, a salvia half-buried by a fern. I also have a deeper sense of dissatisfaction with the garden: too many little plants dotted about. It’s too fussy. I want swathes of things.


Vita Sackville-West said, “I am sure that it is more effective to plant 12 tulips together rather than plant them in two groups of six.” Well, my garden is full of small divided groups, and VSW is right. It doesn’t look very good. When I look out of the window, I plan which plants I can move about to get the effect I am after.


It’s hard to get a small garden looking great in February, but as I walk past the other front gardens of Edinburgh, the ones I like the best are without a doubt those with the most snowdrops. Though not a bona fide Galanthophile, I do think a garden should be full of snowdrops in February. As you can see from my pictures, my garden certainly does not fulfill this important criterion. The question is, do I have the patience to increase my crop using what I’ve already got, or do I blow £30 on importing some more?


End of Month View is hosted by Helen at The Patient Gardener.


10 thoughts on “End of Month View: February 2016

  1. All looking neat and tidy Joanna. February hasn’t been too bad to us has it? Like you I am unhappy about the planting in the areas I am following this year and wholeheartedly agree with VSW’s ethos. It’s onwards from here on in!

    1. Yes, Angie, February has been surprisingly balmy this year, hasn’t it. Lots of sunshine, not much rain… the garden has definitely appreciated it. I’m definitely going to channel VSW this year and it will be nice to compare progress on EOMV next year, to see if I’ve gone even a tiny way towards improving things.

  2. I think many keen gardeners are guilty of having too many single plants instead of swathes of colour. It would be different if there was a large garden to plant in, but otherwise there are just too many plants we want to fit in. I don’t have many swathes of colour, but I try to arrange my garden a bit like a vase of flowers where things look good together in colour, shape and size. As plants get bigger it looks less messy anyway. Your snowdrops, irises and skimmia are looking wonderful. I love native primroses too, that is what spring is all about.

    1. I agree, and how can we ever find out what looks good if we don’t buy and try new plants? Especially for an amateur like me… I would have missed out on so many wonderful plants if I hadn’t experimented. But I am not good at removing the ones that aren’t working, that’s my trouble,

      1. We have a local plant sale that some of mine will be destined for this year. There is not enough space to keep plants that don’t fit. Someone will give them a loving home! I too love experimenting. It is so exciting buying plants especially if they have lost their label and are cheap!

  3. It is lovely to see our plants returning after winter. Down here everything was very early, end of January is the new February! Snowdrops bulk up quite fast, but it is very tempting to splash the cash and get an instant effect. Maybe do a bit of both?

  4. Good to see that the rest of your Clairette Irises have caught up with January’s early riser. They are a lovely blue.

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