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Rejuvenate your winter garden

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 09:00

February is always welcome after the interminably long first month of the year. January is only three days longer than February (two in a leap year), but it seems to drag on and on. February brings with it the first sniff of spring when it is mild and the snowdrops and crocus are blooming.

Spidery flowers and a sweet citrus scent

A shrub that is at its best in February is Hamamelis (witch hazel). Not only is it covered in spidery yellow, orange or red flowers, but some cultivars also have a sweet citrus scent. Sometimes people don’t want to give space to a shrub that will be just green throughout the summer, but if you have room it will rejuvenate your winter garden and draw many admiring glances.

A sunny spot is now thought to be better for flowering, although in the past they were planted in shady woodland gardens. The trick is to keep the roots cool by mulching around them. They don’t like very chalky soils or exposed positions where the wind damages flower buds, but in a sunny spot with some shelter they will flower their hearts out.

An Award of Garden Merit from the RHS

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ is a lovely variety with very fragrant yellow flowers, and has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS. To keep the shrub more compact, prune immediately after flowering, cutting back last summer’s shoots to two or three buds. This also increases the flowering.

If you have wall-trained peaches, almonds or nectarines, it is a good idea to erect a polythene tent over them through winter to prevent peach leaf curl. Alternatively, you can spray with a copper-based fungicide before the blossom appears.

If the weather allows, now is a good time to repair lawn edges by cutting a piece of turf out and turning it 180 degrees so that the damaged edge is on the inside. You can then level the damaged area with topsoil and re-seed.

Sow summer veggies

From mid-to-late February, sow broad beans and peas directly into the ground, which will be ready to pick in early summer. Broad beans in particular taste so much nicer when picked young and fresh, and are definitely in my list of veggies worth growing!

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