February Flirts with Spring

Signs of life begin to emerge.

by Charlie Thigpen

The few warm, sunny days of late winter make flower buds swell and force impatient branches to clothe themselves in tiny chartreuse leaflets. We know that spring is on the way, but we don’t know how many cold spells we will have to endure until we get to that magical time of year. Tackling a few chores now will help you to avoid the spring gardening rush and enjoy your garden when warm weather arrives.

February Flowers

Pansies, violas, Lenten roses and daffodils begin to sprinkle the garden floor with colorful blooms. Take the time to enjoy these little beauties. The once dormant limbs on shrubs such as forsythia, spirea and quince come alive and flower. If you want to add a few of these old-fashioned beauties to your garden, now’s a great time to plant. Camellias are also flowering so it’s a great time to select the color or colors you want.

Clean-Up Your Garden

Five, six pick up sticks because all those windy, wintry days have left small limbs scattered across your landscape. If you have a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, burn these limbs, huddle around the flickering flames and enjoy the warmth in your garden. Better yet, break out the marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers and gather the kids for s’mores.

Now that the late falling leaves have finally let go, it’s time for a final winter leaf removal. If you haven’t done it already, add a thick layer of mulch to dress beds and reduce early spring weeds. If you are starting to see weeds, pull or spray them now before they have time to mature, seed and spread throughout your garden.

Crunchy brown foliage on perennials such as ferns, daisies, daylilies, and lantana should be clipped back to the ground. Liriope or mondo grass that is tattered or has winter damage should also be cut back before new shoots emerge. And if you want to greatly reduce overgrown cherry laurels, wax myrtles or hollies now is a good time for heavy pruning.

Start with Seeds

In late February, seed cool-season crops such as carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach and sugar snap peas directly in the veggie garden. Plant transplants of collards, cabbage, kale or Swiss chard for tender spring greens. Annual rye grass and clover can also be sown into your vegetable or herb garden as a cover crop. In the spring before these crops seed, turn them into the soil to help improve it.

Garden Décor

Now’s a great time to clean up or replace your outdoor furniture. Position seating to take in the best views and create a little outdoor retreat for the warm months ahead. Add a birdhouse, birdbath or feeder for interest and to take care of our feathered friends. Install a few new planters or statuary to your garden for accent.

There’s plenty to do outside this time of year, so don’t wait on spring; get ready for it.

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