Gardening tips - February is short and sharp with plenty to do

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 February 2014

Hellebores at Bucklow Farm

Hellebores at Bucklow Farm

not Archant

February is a short, sharp snap of a month that has the power to bring many gardeners to their knees, writes landscape gardener Jacqui Brocklehurst

February is a brief interlude between late winter and early spring and it is the optimum moment for a couple of my favourite plants to shine. Snowdrops and hellebores are the star performers at this time of year yet their shy, down-turned heads mean we must get down on our hands and knees in order to truly appreciate their awesome beauty.

Don’t be alarmed if you glimpse the muddy boots of a prostrate figure in the hedgerows or under a tree, it is just a wandering galanthophile, a snowdrop addict enjoying his winter fix.

Hellebores too are drawing a crowd. Not quite as dainty as their winter counterparts but just as enchanting, these alluring plants have captured the heart of many a gardener.

Flowers come in shades of cream, pink, purple and burgundy with some cultivars verging on looking almost black, however their true beauty lies beneath. Gently lift the flower to reveal the intricate markings that surround the stamens and anther and you will see why these plants are so heart warmingly individual and so captivating. Often the same cultivars will exhibit slightly different characteristics, dappled petals or a smattering of dots, even the habit and posture of the plants can be different. Because of this it is important to choose your hellebore when it is in flower and, choose it yourself.

Hellebores thrive in moist, humus-rich soil in partial shade and are effective grown in groups in a mixed or shrub border and in a woodland garden. In the winter garden they look gorgeous against the white bark of Betula jacquemontii (white birch) and can be combined with ferns, red leaved bergenias and under-planted with snowdrops.

Even though the days are still short and Jack Frost is nipping at our toes there is still work to do in the garden. Bare rooted roses can be planted now, as can fruit bushes and trees, so if you fancy something different in your garden for this year, a rose covered pergola or a grow your own orchard, wrap up warm, grab that spade and get digging.

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