Up and down the country the hardiest gardeners have been busily tending their plots throughout the winter, but for others, the arrival of February and the gentle, almost imperceptible lengthening of the days and warming of the air means that we are tempted out of the back door. And if the sun shines – well there’s no stopping us! So where to begin?

A little bit of pruning…

Pruning is a lovely thing to do on a cool but relatively dry February day and begins the process of making the windswept winter garden look tidy and loved.

Wisteria can be be pruned in February. Following on from July/ August pruning, cut back stems to 2 or 3 buds to encourage flowers to bloom clear of the leaves.

Prune winter flowering shrubs that have finished their display. If you are looking to renovate a shrub then remove dead, diseased or damaged growth and any crossing shoots. For specific information on pruning plants see the rhs website.

Cut back deciduous grasses (stipa tenuissima and miscanthus) left over the winter and remove dead fronds from evergreen grasses festuca glauca and carex). See the RHS for details.

Trim hedges to tidy them up before the growing season.

Preparing vegetables…

On days where the storms aren’t rolling in from the west making everything waterlogged, you can begin to prepare beds for vegetable growing. Growing from seed is a real delight, but plan your crop rotations carefully so that you can manage what you grow and avoid gluts. See the RHS website for further information.

Chit potatoes by placing them on a tray in a cool, frost free place away from direct sunlight, with the end that has the most buds facing upwards. After a few weeks you’ll see sprouting growth upto 2 inches long. Retain the strongest 4 shoots and rub of any others. You can then plant out your chitted potatoes in fertile, well drained soil in drills or in holes, earthing up the tubers as they grow. Before you know it, you’ll have a bumper crop!

Flowers and blooms…

Protect the blossom of nectarines, peaches and apricots – all of which flower early in the year. In good years with sunshine and warmth this means the blossom is polinated and fruits are set, but the unpredictable weather of February means that if you want to enhance your chances of a good crop you need to protect the blossoms from wind, rain and frost with fleece. Think about your local micro climate too as cold air naturally sinks and can pool at the bottom of slopes and against fences etc.

Divide snowdrops in the green and replant the clumps to expand your collection. You’ll find that once you’ve carefully dug up the clumps with a fork, that the bulbs can be gently teased apart and smaller clumps replanted elsewhere.

Whatever you’re up to in the garden in February, enjoy these early spring days.