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What i love about February...

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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:21 pm    Post subject: What i love about February... Reply with quote

"February becomes a month of magic and mystique"

With its eerie evenings when the low-lying sunset casts pink silhouettes across the horizon, February becomes a month of magic and mystique. It is these evenings which are different from winter yet not quite spring. And, furthermore, they conjure memoirs of bonfire night, helping you to remember just how long ago it was. It would take the most ignorant being to dismiss February as the month of very little because, in fact, it is quite the opposite-so much so that it is the end of the solemn winter period and the start of another opulent spring. February fires the start gun to signal crocus to flower and, this year certainly, daffodils have arrived one month ahead of schedule. Crocus really have that heir about them that triggers, in the gardeners mind, a switch, declaring the beginning of another hectic gardening year that inevitably begins with the sowing of a mere handful of hardy annuals. Daffodils, on the other hand, have appeared uninvited and have gate crashed the party for the carpet of crocuses that religiously spring above ground level which could possibly mean the humble crocus is overlooked and steps back a little.

With January out of the way and March rapidly approaching, February offers the prime time for planting fruit trees and fruit bushes. Having planted none of the latter I decided it was only fair that I bought in a fruit tree and so I did: one afternoon I found myself excavating a hole just big enough for a new 'Doyenne du comice' pear I just happened to conveniently purchase whilst out and about. Such planting of a tree brings with it a buy one get one free promotion: buy a tree which will not only fruit for years to come, it will also add drama and stature to. What was before, an impoverished garden.

I love February for country verges and the abundance of hazel that grows upon them, dangling their golden catkins above the bonnet of the car. Our native hazel (Corylus avellana) is truly magnificent at what it does: flowers in February, bares luscious lightly-veined foliage all summer and, in September, is bursting with nuts that are perfect put in storage for the winter when they can be roasted or simply eaten as they are. Contrastingly, as with all fresh food, they are only ever at their best when eaten straight from the tree when picking them off becomes an impediment that you'd rather not prove necessary as it occupies valuable eating time. When I look back now I feel privileged to have planted a specimen Corylus avellana contorta in one of the borders. Although it doesn't supply us with the renowned golden tassels of its wild counterpart it does have similar, more subtle, catkins which hang like mini streamers.

Even the vegetable garden jump starts into action with the onset of February. So far this month I have managed to plant some 40 'Sturon' onion sets and 20ft worth of 'Feltham first' peas. The latter I covered with fleece for the simple reason average temperatures at the time were struggling to top freezing. The last time I checked [which was on the 10th] the peas were just beginning to work themselves above the soil. In an ideal year I would have all my seed potatoes chitting; this year must be an ideal year. In the spare room which is kept cool there is about 120 seed potatoes: 60 Wiljas and 60 Pentland javelin. It is the second year I shall be growing Wilja because we found them to be a perfect potatoes for boiling which is what we do a lot of. Pentland javelin is new to us despite its increasing popularity so it will be wonderful to see the extent of the crop we dig up in July. This wee I have been moving all my heathers from their bed and planting them to form a low hedge around the wildlife pond. In their place I shall be making a dahlia bed- all the tubers are ready and waiting to be planted. On my constant quest to make more room in the vegetable garden I have battled against a thicket of Spirea douglasii with the help of a beautifully-crafted mattock. Where this clearing has been introduced I intend to build a raised bed approximately 2' tall and 7' to grow carrots in this year- this height should thwart the dreaded carrot fly hence an untouched crop will be produced.

If February does not herald the start of a great spring and you feel there is rather a long time to wait before getting the gardening going then surely St. Valentine's day gives you something to shout about. To celebrate this Valentines day I have planted two lovely roses: Rosa 'Flamenco' and Rosa 'Queen of England'. One holds a gentle pink hue and the other is close to a peach, flushed with a hint of apricot blush. Potentially, these roses will make their way into vases either on the show bench or in he home where their sweet fragrance will drift in and out of every room.

Finally, what I really adore February for is my birthday which occurs on the 5th. I am not overly excited by my own birthday as I am when it somebody else's. I think it is the fact that I feel uneasy when I am just receiving rewards without working for them myself. Being in my comfort zone agitates me so I can only believe it is this that omits any major sense of awe on my own birthday. What I do know is: now, after the winter solstice things seem better and I feel I can cope with anything life throws at me. So, conclusively in a matter of a few months I have gone from what is ultimately my lowest ebb to a point where I feel things can only get better...
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