Garden diary – February

This month felt little more than a horticultural interregnum. A pause. As though the garden froze in January, awaiting a spring thaw in March.

The palette remained brown with pin-pricks of colour from perennials waiting for the soil to warm through.

Happily the garden soaked up the rain – though London didn’t flood, it certainly felt as though we were part of the country’s wettest February on record.

While the fresh shoots of Euphorbia appear in late December and lay dormant until March, other plants like my Welsh poppies and this Helenium have started to appear. Something to cheer about.

I left all of last year’s perennials in place over winter to provide habitat and a bit of interest. Also to deter foxes and cats from treating the whole garden like a toilet. But in February I began to cut shoots, sticking them into the ground or leaving them lying around until fresh growth takes off.

There’s little sign of life on the surface of the soil. I’ve seen the odd bumblebee, and the slugs have started to nibble at the tulips as they appear.

In among the sea of brown, early-flowering plants like the Rosemary, Daffodils and Ribes Sanguineum cheer us up, and give early rising insects some nectar.

The only time I really spent in the garden this month was to repair and buttress our fence, which had struggled with the high winds. Being at the top of a 300 ft hill, and in garden on a slope without much to break the wind, we got buffeted by the string of storms.

But at least I can see these flowers from our kitchen and dining room. We’ve a similar display in the front garden – most mornings I notice and smile and the daffs, lenten roses and crocuses that are a feature throughout February. I also enjoyed looking at them while clearing the bed of last year’s dead growth and generally tidying up.

The other nice thing about this month is seeing the trees come into bud. Perhaps in March I’ll see some buds open.