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JILL'S GARDENING COLUMN #1 - Feb 2018
EMBRACE FEBRUARY

One of my new year’s resolutions (aside from the usual eating more healthily and getting fit), is to spend more time outdoors and what better way to do this than to get into the garden.

Now for the fun bit, (this may involve some retail therapy), it’s time to start planning and planting. February is the ideal time to experiment with planting spring and summer bulbs. Buy loose bulbs which you can pick and mix yourself for a truly individual feel or for ease, buy pre-packed. Decide whether to plant straight into the ground or into a container and go for it. It really is as simple as that and the best thing about bulbs at this time of year is that once planted, not only will they flower from early summer onwards, depending on the variety, but many will flower again each and every year for a good few years to come.

If you really don’t have the inclination or cannot face ruining that recent post-Christmas manicure, then cheat. Buy planted containers full of tete a tete, pansies, violas and primroses for colour through to the early summer. Hellebores, such as spring promise and swan lake, or camilla are other excellent plants to consider. They flower from February through to late April/May, have superb green foliage and again will continue to bloom each year, giving that shot of much needed colour at this time of year. 

On the subject of cheating, an easy way to inject some colour and foliage into our greenery devoid homes, is to embrace this season’s trend of house plants. Succulents (cacti) and bonsai are both having a moment right now. They are easy to care for, look good and take up very little space while creating a statement in any flat, home or office. Look out for them displayed in glass jars and terrariums too. For a more feminine and luxurious plant, try the moth orchid, exquisite and contrary to belief, one of the easiest houseplants to grow, often flowering for months on end.

February is also a good month to give growing your own seed potatoes and vegetables a go. With the amount of vegetables needed to produce even a shot full of goodness from my juicer, I am of the view that growing my own is the way to go. The satisfaction of knowing that any vegetables grown leaves very little in the way of a carbon footprint and are undeniably fresh (if picked as and when needed), will also stay with you for the months ahead. 

So, embrace February. Spend time in the garden, the spa, the gym and come March, the groundwork having been done in February, you will feel rejuvenated, energized and looking forward to seeing the transformation in your garden as winter turns to spring.

--Jill

*Picture courtesy of Guardian Series Newspapers 

Jill Kerr is a plant buyer and events manager for the Blue Diamond Group of garden centres which include Fryer’s in Knutsford, The Grosvenor in Chester and Trentham Garden Centre in Stoke on Trent.