February Dreams

Did January just breeze by? It’s hard to believe we are already a month into what still feels like the new year. I can sense the collective restlessness of gardeners in the northeast. We’re chomping at the bit for spring preparations. But, the shortest month can feel like the longest. It’s usually when winter decides to do her worst. This year however, we might actually welcome a decent dose of snow and sleet. Thus far, we have had almost no snow to speak of. Even the temperature hasn’t dipped sufficiently or long enough into its typical range. Makes one deeply uneasy. Who knows what this will mean for the seasons ahead. Its anyone’s guess really.

But we gardeners are eternal optimists. We plan for the best. Familiar as we are to the vagaries of Mother Nature and horticultural setbacks, we persist in dreaming and striving for the most positive outcomes. There is simply no other way. And so, we spend February conjuring up the most perfect garden yet. As yet too early to start any real work but for some late winter pruning, this is the time to solidify all those random ideas and visions. Gather up information, draw up plans, create a master to-do list, place orders for seeds and plants, get all tools and materials ready, schedule any hardscaping work – it’s all about getting ready.

I personally appreciate that February makes it impossible to actually do anything but plan and prepare. Otherwise, we’d plunge into action willy-nilly and let the garden get out of hand. I speak from experience. My early days in the garden were fraught with misguided eagerness and expenses. Impulsive actions resulting in expensive mistakes. It’s not just about money spent but also the time and effort wasted.

Taking this month to organize will make the work ahead that much more enjoyable and productive. It has taught me to be a smarter gardener.

The hyacinths have been removed from the refrigerator and placed in their pretty glass forcers. It keeps the momentum of spring dreams going.

Things To Do In February

(Much of the items in the January list are applicable here. Do check that list as well) 

  1. Stay on top of effects of snow and storms. Take quick action.

  2. Keep bird feeders full. Whenever possible provide water.

  3. Get garden plans and designs ready.

  4. Check garden supplies. Does the hose need repair or replacing? Is there enough soil, organic fertilizer, twine, stakes etc.,? Make a list and do what is needed.

  5. Towards the end of the month, prune roses, wisteria, grape vines and fruit trees.

  6. Cut back ivy on walls and fences before birds start nesting. Brightly colored stems of Salix and Cornus should be cut back to about 6 to 10 inches from ground. This will encourage brighter color next spring.

  7. Prepare for seed sowing. Get seed flats clean and ready. Check if there’s enough seed growing medium.

  8. Order seeds. Once seeds arrive, write labels and clip to each pocket. This saves time later when there is so much else to do.

  9. If there is not much snow, cut back old leaves on Hellebores. New growth and flowers will be emerging. Cut back other perennials that were skipped in autumn.

  10. Attend to indoor plants.

  11. The New York Botanical Garden’s annual orchid show opens in March. Do reserve your tickets and go! It’ll banish winter blues and get you inspired.

  12. Renew ( or join) your membership to the Garden Conservancy. Place your order for the Open Days directory. Once you receive it you can start scheduling visits to beautiful gardens near and far. Inspiration is only a garden visit away!

Note: The art exhibit at the The View is still on. Do take a look if possible!

Some images of spring to get you dreaming –

(c) 2023 Shobha Vanchiswar

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