FEBRUARY

THE MONTH OF NEW GROWTH

February can seem like a month that nothing is happening or going on in the garden but actually that is not the case and a lot has been going on, Snowdrops that have been sleeping over the summer months are now busting into life with their delicate nodding bells of winter beauty. Tete a Tete daffodils, one of the earliest of spring bulbs are putting up their showy display of vibrant spring yellow, Crocus opening up widely to soak up the warm spring rays of sunshine to attract pollination and the Eranthis or winter aconite with it’s rich green leaves and a delicate yellow cup shaped almost buttercup like flowers, they can form massed carpets and are often seen in churchyards where they are left undisturbed. A lot has happened over the winter, new roots have grown, bulbs nourished and swollen and now in February it’s all about to burst into life.

There are numerous spring bulbs to give us a colourful display but one of the most showy of all the plants for heralding the spring garden is the delightful Hellebore.They are so easy to grow and care for and although some do like a moist dappled shady spot many will grow quite happily in full sunshine and for those with a clay soil, well the Hellebore will love it. Totally hardy your Hellebore will not be harmed with any harsh weather that may be thrown at it and although they can droop with a severe frost they quickly recover with a bit of warmth. Hellebores cover a wide spectrum of colour shades from pinks, creams, yellow, black red and many shades in between with both single and double flowers. Although i refer to them as flowers they are technically a bract. The christmas rose a white variety is one of the earliest to flower as it’s name suggests flowering around Christmas time. When February comes the Hellebore puts up its stunning show and unlike many other spring flowers that have a relatively short flowering time, the Hellebore can go on for a long while easily flowering for a month or more they just gradually fade in colour as the seed head develops. Large clumps can be dug up after flowering and divided into smaller clumps and replanted this way you know what you have and although they are vigorous in their production of seeds and plant-lets the resulting plant could be of any colour and it’s not the ideal way of growing your Hellebores.There has over the years been much work done in developing new varieties and colours by specialist growers and they are definitely a very fashionable plant to have in the garden. Many of the recent developments in the breeding of Hellebores have resulted in a much more upright flowerhead so that the speckled flowers can be much more visible. Wagon House gardens at the Jinney Ring craft centre will be holding a special Hellebore event showcasing these upright varieties from February 14th, this has become a popular annual event in the calendar. Easy to look after your hellebore will benefit from a feed with a liquid fertiliser such as a tomato feed, this will encourage more flowers. Remove last years leaves prior to flowering as they can become blackened this is quite normal, the added benefit is that the flowers then become much more exposed.

Perfect planted into a pot or container your hellebore will give you years of pleasure and with the added benefit of being able to move it to brighten up any dull corner.They truly are one of my favourite garden plants for the season and i think that they might become yours to. 

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