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Green Fingers in late Winter

Down at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, 
Bridget is looking forward to spring 

We might be under lockdown, but don’t despair - there is so much to look forward to this spring. The one thing we can guarantee is that nature will carry on as usual! 

Gardens have always provided a place where we can get outside, relax and enjoy nature. Recently more people, both young and old, have discovered the benefits of gardening and are consequentially keeping fit as well as having fun. 

One of the first flowers to appear in January are the snowdrops, giving us a taste of all the spring delights to come. February and March is a time for early spring bulbs and the sudden splashes of colour in the dull winter weather are a welcome reprieve. If you haven’t got bulbs in the garden, make a note or take pictures of any you like and order them to plant next autumn. If you can’t wait, potted bulbs for planting out now are available from most nurseries. Plant up containers in March with bulbs and other early spring flowering plants such as Bellis, Viola and wallflowers. Early flowers in the garden are really important for bees that are just coming out of hibernation. 

Here are a few jobs for the garden these months: 

Ornamental garden 

In March cut back any dead stems and tidy up Perennials such as Perovskia, Lavender and Penstemoms. Divide any overcrowded clumps of herbaceous perennials and prepare the ground for sowing seeds such as grass, annuals, wildflower mixes. 

March is a good time to prune hybrid tea and floribunda roses back. Prune coloured stemmed dogwoods back to the base if you want multi-stemmed colours next winter. For weaker cultivars such as Cornus Sibirica, a three year cycle works well, removing one third of stems each Spring. 
In February prune late-flowering clematis (Summer)to about 30 centimetres from the ground, or to the nearest healthy-looking buds. Sow annuals under cover. 

Wildlife gardening 

If you have a pond, its time to buy and plant native pond plants. You can sow hardy annual wildflowers mixes and put up nest boxes for the birds. Don’t forget to carry on feeding them through the nesting season. 
Avoid clearing the compost heap or mounds of leaves until mid- spring as they may be homes to hedgehogs, toads, frogs and insects. And avoid strimming areas of grass containing wildflowers. 

Last Spring I noticed many gardeners were getting carried away cutting hedges during nesting time. Leave any hedge cutting until July onwards once chicks have had a chance to fledge. 

Kitchen garden

In February cut back autumn fruiting raspberry canes to the ground. Tidy strawberry plants by removing any dead or diseased leaves and runners. 
It’s time to start sowing vegetable seeds, including early summer cabbages, leeks and radishes under cover. Sow all the indoor tender veg into modules, ready for planting out after frosts. Avoid direct sowing vegetables too early. You will not gain by this as many seeds such as parsnips, beetroots and brassicas germinate best in soils temperatures of 7 celsius or more. 

Its time to chit potatoes. Place tubers in a single layer on a tray in a cool, frost-free place with moderate light. Plant them in early to mid-April. 
We are carrying on as usual here on the nursery (regulations permitting) and hope to be able to re-open in March. Hopefully we might see you then! 


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 5. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: