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February Garden Journal

I’ve been really cheered by this weeks bright and warmer weather and it’s made a huge difference to the growth in the gardens. In February, the days rapidly lengthen and the sun is already climbing in the sky and buds are swelling. The soil is still cold but it's an optimistic outlook!

The snow earlier this month desiccated leaves and the ground lifted after being deeply frozen for days, but yet most plants seem undisturbed by it.

For many of our herbaceous plants, a good period of cold triggers the beginning of the flowering process, called vernalisation. Seeds will germinate and plants stimulated to emerge from winter slumber.

Some Hellebore petals were burnt by the frost but look how beautiful they are now.

These dark hellebores will be cut and delivered for March's ‘Year of Flowers’ delivery later this month.

Now in the gardens we are concentrating on cutting back the roses and perennials.

In our little tunnel, we have been sowing seeds. This year we are sowing and transplanting by the biodynamic calendar. I have previously sown without much rhythm, as and when I have time and often when it’s bad weather and I can hide undercover sowing. Now we are sowing little and often whenever there are 'flower days'.

Seedlings really do seem to be germinating very quickly and strongly but I confess not to have been very scientific about measuring the success previously. Having to sow within a bracket of designated days has certainly sharpened my efforts and I am getting seeds sown more regularly and moving them on quicker. It can be easy to let a couple of weeks slide before you manage to sow more or leave seedlings hampered by my inattention but following the Maria Thun calendar is giving me a great structure to follow and it shows.

We don’t have much propagation space here and I mostly follow my honed method of sowing in pots and pricking out and transplanting rather than straight into trays. Most seeds start in the dark on a heat mat under the a propagator lid indoors and I check daily for any germination. They then get swiftly moved into the polytunnel, again on the heat bed with a lid but maximum light to prevent leggy growth. As Sarah Raven says, ‘we are looking for short stout seedlings rather than long thin ones’. It is wonderful to look forward to growing all these on and cutting in a few months time.

In the studio, Cissy and I have been recording the delicate beauty of this month.

There is a real contrast in robust stems and petals with diminutive delicate flowers.

Prunus cherry blossom.

The first Narcissus this year.

February’s ‘Year of Flowers’ buckets with delicious hellebores, budding stems of blossom, unfurling euphorbia and fern fronds.

I really love the Kate Spencer ‘Tall’ vase that was delivered with the flowers this month. The texture and shape is so tactile but I think it will be a well used piece.

I’m certainly emerging from hibernation and the flowers are too. I am really looking forward to cutting more and more flowers as we move into Spring and being able to share it all with you soon!

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