Campbell River, British Columbia 
 Gardening in Campbell River

Garden Thoughts for February

Today, as I sit and write this column, the sun is streaming in my windows.
It's reflecting off the leftover snow and making the garden bright and
inviting. Perhaps you're yearning to be out in the yard, but wondering what
it's OK to do at this time of year. Well, there are a number of things you
can do, and several you should.

A calm, clear day in February is just perfect for dormant oil spraying.
Lime and sulfur are organic substances that are combined with oil and
sprayed on roses, fruit trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs that are
prone to fungal problems. Just ask at your local garden centre for Dormant
Oil. It's called dormant because it must be applied when the plant is
completely dormant. It will blacken any leaves that are still hanging on
your roses, so it's best to give them a light trim before spraying. You
would also want to gather up any rose leaves that are on the ground if
you've been having problems with black spot, and not put them in the compost.
Brian Minter advises spraying three times through the winter, in late
November, January, and late February. As soon as buds begin to break in
March it's too late.

Another chore that's fine to do at this time is pruning of deciduous plants.
If you know it's hardy enough to stand up to the last month or two of
winter, you can prune away. Borderline roses, summer clematis, buddlieas
and fuchsias that you want to keep as big as possible are best left till
after the new leaves pop out. That way you can see the winter die-back and
just trim that much away. Let the forsythia be your indicator for pruning
these types of things.

There are several things you really should avoid this month. Experts tell
us to keep off the lawn. When it's full of water, as so many are in this
part of the country, walking will compact the soil and possibly turn your
yard into a giant mud pit. Of course, you are going to walk on the lawn a
bit, but if you need to work in one area, try putting down a board to
distribute your weight. You might also be tempted to start turning over
your vegetable garden. Check the water content of the soil. If it's
anything like mine, the clay doesn't dry out enough to break up until late
May. (yes, these are raised, amended beds!) If you're desperate for
something to do, you can dig over the veg bed, but leave the clods as they
land, and let time dry them out and break them down. And of course, always
stand on a board at this time of year.

So you can get out and do a little pruning, a little spraying, a light
tidy-up, and a bit of digging. You can also wash your windows and siding
now before things leaf out and get in the way. I'd recommend resisting the
urge to start moving plants around though, for a couple of reasons.
Transplants will need sun, water and nutrients to do well in their new
spots, and may not be growing vigorously enough to bounce back from the
move. If it freezes again, they'll be harder hit. And, if you wait until
spring bulbs and perennials start to poke their heads above the ground, you'
ll be less likely to accidentally dig into them as you get into moving mode.

Days are still short, and the rain will be back soon. So you have plenty of
time yet to enjoy the main February gardening chore: sitting in a comfy
chair, with a warm drink at hand, and a stack of garden catalogues in your
lap. It doesn't matter if you never order anything from them. The pictures
are full of ideas, and February is still a time for dreaming.

Read March's issue here

Karen Barber is an architectural and landscape designer in Campbell River.

Her company is Madrona Design, which sponsors this Gardening in Campbell River webpage.

 Check out her site as she has added a discussion page to her website.
Like a BB where people can post questions etc. get there by clicking on the button below...

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