What’s So Special About February?

January quite possibly one of the worst months for gardeners. Aside from being truly endless (is it the 295th of January today??) – for gardeners, there really isn’t very much to do at all.

There’s a slightly old-fashioned adage of putting the garden to bed for winter, tucking everything up for a period of hibernation, not to be seen until spring – and that’s partially true. While we do say goodbye to the perennials and shift focus to bulbs and the next year ahead of us, our garden isn’t quite asleep. Beneath the layer of soil, those aforementioned perennials are waiting, gaining energy – all ready to pounce back in spring. Now strictly speaking, this is nonsense – the plants are of course asleep, or dormant, but the idea of putting our gardens to bed is one of a garden time gone by.

Once, I do believe, certain gardeners would have put their garden gloves down in November and not picked them up again until February or March (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but go with me!).

But really, winter is the time for scheming….plotting and planning, pondering on the year gone and how to tweak, amend and dare I say, improve what in now behind us. Do we hoick things out, toss them away, grow anew or continue as once was? Create new spaces? Do we bother trying with Dahlias again after last year (the answer is yes by the way)? Will this be a rough year for tomato blight again?

But, we’ve done all that already right? Perhaps, but some of us are still cultivating a cunning plan for complex combinations of colours and choices. However, I shift focus to now – as we speed ahead through the frosty embrace of winter, with the light at the end of the tunnel – signalling us towards spring. The garden centres are fit to burst with seeds, possibly dahlias in some cases and the odd seed potato rears its head and opens its eyes, begging to find its way into your basket. They found their way into mine.

So what of that wily plan you’ve been formulating? Your list of potential seeds and plants for this year, growing increasingly ever longer, no apparent sign of dwindling – we all know more will be added come ‘sale time ‘the sales’.

The plan is made, all the seeds are purchased (for now) and you have some semblance in your minds’ eye of how your sanctuary will present itself over the coming months. And one question stands tall, when can I get going…when can I begin…now??

Woah, not so fast – you’ll hear them call. Its not time, they’ll say. Wait a little longer, a voice from the back. We’re all desperate aren’t we, to get sowing, get growing and get showing? But January really isn’t the right time and I’ll tell you why. The garden isn’t ready.

However, February might just be the time to begin. Glance at a seed packet, chances are you’ll pick one that permits sowing from February (perhaps March…) – try another, February again. But why? I want to do it now!

Well you know what, go ahead – no, really. Do it.

February is here and its glorious. While you probably shouldn’t just go hell for leather and sow everything in one fell swoop, you can err on the side of caution and get going now, should you choose. Some will want to wait that little bit longer, opting for a binge of sowing in March or even April but what I’m proclaiming here is that its your choice – do right by the seed, and it’ll do right by you (most of the time).

There’s a reason that January feels like the longest and darkest of all the months and that’s because its leading us to February.

Arguably a month that is usually lost in the winter/spring crossover – but for gardeners its a month where things start to change. Pick up a seed packet and have a crack, just check the back first maybe (or don’t).

Whilst I’m here, its another chance to share this wonderful tweet from Brian Bilston – it still rings true now.

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