Continue feeding the birds.
February is a good month for putting up nesting boxes that will be used during the spring.
Strictly speaking buddleia does not need pruning, but if a plant produced a poor show of flowers, it will benefit from pruning, producing strong new stems and more importantly large clusters of flowers for the butterflies.
Cut back all last year’s shoots to within 5 or 8 cm (2 or 3”) of the old wood.
Note that in mild winters, new rosettes of leaves may already have started to form at the junction of the old and new wood and these should be left undamaged.
Moving trees and shrubs
This is the last month for lifting and replanting shrubs or trees which may be in the wrong position. By spring, nest building will be underway and moving established plants can be very disruptive. If the ground is too hard or the weather bad, leave until autumn.
Pruning Cotoneaster and Berberis
Barberry (Berberis) and cotoneaster shrubs, both of value for their berries, can be cut back to prevent them becoming too overgrown and woody. The thicker, tougher, three year old stems (or older) are cut out at ground level, opening up the plant to allow more light and air to the centre.
Use sharp secateurs and prune the old wood back to within a few inches of the ground.
Lifting and dividing perennials
Hardy perennials which have been in place for three years or more, can be lifted and divided now to make new plants. All the species lifted are good for wildlife and this is the simplest method of propagation. Note: Division can also be done in autumn.
Prepare the ground where the new plants are going to be put, by digging over and adding some garden compost. Using a fork, gently work the clump out of the ground, taking care not to break the toots. For large clumps, insert two forks, back to back and prise the roots apart. Small clumps can be pulled apart by hand. Select small healthy pieces from the outside of the plant, with at least three or four young shoots for replanting. The central woody portion can be discarded. The new sections can be planted immediately, allowing enough room between plants for development to their full size.
Perennials to divide
- Globe thistle (Echinops ritro) Bee plant, Butterfly nectar plant
- Golden rod (Solidago canadensis) Bee plant, Butterfly nectar plant
- Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) Bee plant, Butterfly nectar plant, Native
- Michaelmas daisy (Aster novi belgii) Butterfly nectar plant
- Sedum: Butterfly nectar plant
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium and Achillea filipendulina) Bee plant, Butterfly nectar plant, Native
Planting lily of the valley
Lily of the valley (convallaria majalis) best known for the delicious fragrance of its white bell shaped flowers is so widely planted in gardens that it is sometimes forgotten that it is a native of our woodlands, although not so widespread in the wild as it used to be. It spreads rapidly if given the right conditions and makes an excellent woodland floor plant. Existing clumps can be divided now or individual crowns can be bought from nurseries.
Choose a shady spot with moist soil into which some leaf mould has been added.
Plant the crowns point upwards, 8-10 cm (3-4”) apart. They should lie just beneath the surface of the soil. Clumps of crowns can be placed 15 cm (6”) apart. Water in well.
One of the reasons lily of the valley often fails, in that it is planted in dry, open, sunny beds, when it really needs a moist soil and the cover of deciduous trees.