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Gardening tips February

flora's greenBooooiiiiinngg! Spring is here (well nearly). But it really does arrive in Cornwall first – weeks earlier than our upcountry cousins. One of the most stunning gardens in Cornwall, The Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell, already have their first born Devon and Cornwall longwools born of the year (*awww*).

But officially, it only happens once all seven Magnolia campbellii trees in the six gardens of cornwall (Caerhays Castle Gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trebah, Tregothnan, Trewidden and Trewithen) are in bloom. Heligan’s are out!

After neglecting my patch last year, I need someone to wave a magic wand over my brambles – cue my own gardening fairy godmother Nicola Bradley, head of the productive garden team at Heligan – here to steer me in the right direction:

spring clean

February is a time for spring cleaning. Open up your cold frames and glasshouses and give everything a good scrub – inside and out and make sure that ventilation blocks are clear of weeds and leaves. Replace any cracked or damaged panes and keep windows open for ventilation is the weather isn’t too cold.

heligan apple archPrune before the birds start nesting (and in my case, the local pregnant sheep). Score above the buds on apple and cherry trees to encourage lateral grown. Wall trained fruit and any berry bushes and hedges should be cut back now. Mulch new trees with manure.

weeding

Nurture your soil. Practice the mantra weed, weed weed and keep weeding. More is more in the case of weeding apparently. Hoe all your beds now and you can pat yourself on the back later.

seeds3

Sow seeds – Its not too early to sow batches of onion seeds in cold frames. Nicola recommends Yellow Parma, or Bedfordshore Champion now (early Feb), Red Brunswick and Ailsa Craig (mid Feb) then Long Red Florance, Brown Spanish and Southport Red Globe towards the end of the month. Its also the right time to sow leek (try ‘The Lyon’), celeriac (Giant Prauge or Prinz) and plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.

peony

If flowers are more your thing, peonies can be sown from early Feb (try the Black Peony) and from the middle of the month sweet peas (my favourite). If you have dahlias, move them somewhere cold and dark to stop them drying and shooting to early.

heligan 2If you have a pond, you can think about sowing annuals in late Feb – try Orlaya, Rhodanthe and Gillia.

The Lost Garden’s of Heligan, Pentewan, Saint Austell PL26 6EN

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Cornwall