February and March in the garden always feel to me like the darkest winter months before the spring dawn. Spring is not far off and yet the days can still be cold, dark, wet and short. The garden too can be looking scruffy, baron and a bit of a damp, cold mess. It can be a depressing scene if it were not for the promise of good things soon to come. I have to remind myself that Aconites have been showing off their yellow flowers in the lawn under the tree since the very beginning of January, the dogwood is still blazing orangey red in the shrubbery and the snowdrops are happily sparkling like forgotten jewels rediscovered in the flower beds.
Now is a good time to get to grips with those garden jobs that are all too easily put off until another day. Jobs that will pay dividends later like pruning overgrown deciduous hedges before birds begin to nest, weeding beds and borders, (avoid standing on wet, soggy soil because it will compact), digging trenches and incorporating compost for later planting of runner beans and sweet peas, dividing and planting flowered snowdrops, cutting back mid to late summer flowering clematis and pruning summer and winter jasmines. It is not too early to start work on the lawn either. Aerate, mow, weed and remove thatch now if the weather is dry and mild. Shrubs will benefit from a spring application of slow release fertiliser, trees and shrubs can just about still be planted if weather permits and also you complete the pruning of apple and pear trees.
Depending on what plants you have in your garden or allotment there are many more jobs to do at this time of year. Plant shallots and onion sets, dead head flowered bulbs, lift and divide summer flowering perennials, repot, top dress and feed container plants, cut back ornamental grasses, pollard shrubs and trees grown for winter colour, mulch bare soil in beds and borders, prune roses, plant early potatoes and finally, put grow bags in the greenhouse to warm up before planting, (I always leave the full watering can in the greenhouse for the same reason) and put plant supports in the herbaceous border before they put on too much growth.