Tofino gardening in February
by Trina Mattson, Tofino
After a fairly mild and semi-wet winter, the weeds are bursting out of the soil in full force, so I hope we are all prepared for a busy spring in the garden. I know I don't regret taking a moment in early January to pay attention to the first blossoms of the New Year.
The Hamamelis (witch hazels) made a showing even before January; the heather was out in bloom; and as always, the snow crocus and the snow drops said hello. However, a lovely surprise was the slight-cinnimin- scented Camellia Sasanqua, (winter flowering Camellia) which was blooming around the beginning of November and are still fully blooming with buds still opening. Rain is not a problem, as I have some under cover and some straight out in the open, baring all weather. I'm sure a few other plants are just as confused about what time of the year it is. For example, the Prunus Kwanzan was letting loose a few blossoms early January, and Rhododendron Rosamundi was blooming late January. In February we should expect several plants and trees to burst forth. Dicentra (bleeding hearts), Crocus', Daffodils, and spring blooming bulbs have come out just in time for Valentines Day. Now, if you are having problems with your bulbs not standing straight and tall - I have a trick. Whether they are in pots or straight in the ground, prop them up with either blown down alder branches, (shouldn't be too hard to find) cedar branches or fir branches. Just stick them in the ground around the bulbs to provide support for these tall flowers. Primroses are also expected in and will brighten up any corner. I always try to plant fresh primroses by the front entrance or in a primary path, and move spent flowers to another location where they may flourish. Later in the month the Hellebores (lenten rose) will be out in bloom, and so will a few rockery perennials. Like last February, with all the pretty plants blooming early, we may be lucky enough to get a jump-start on gardening house work...that's right - weeding. Last year, when I was pressed for time, I came across a great weeding trick and quite frankly, I think it's ingenious. I hired workers in my garden who work for one meal a day, and within two weeks my entire garden was turned over and the small weeds were pulled out. How? you ask. Well, I just threw some all-purpose bird food right onto the soil of my garden beds, covering a 10x10 area (I didn't want to over tire the little birdies.) At first the crows picked up the larger seeds, while chasing away the king fishers, which like to snack in my ponds. Then, the blue jays came in and gobbled anything they could get their beaks on. And finally, my favourites are the little chickadees and finches, which came in flocks and scratched the surface of the garden all up, getting at all the little seeds and weed seeds. By the end of the day, voila! -- clean and weed free.
Liming the lawn and certain plants in the garden can be done mid-February. Also, if you find a week free of rain, applying a dormant oil and sulphur to help battle any over wintering bugs and fungus can be done mid-February.
This month you can also fertilize Clematis, Rhododendrons and ... well, give everything a shot and you can't go wrong. Also, start thinking about summer bulbs and seeds since they are all showing up on the shelves.
Happy Valentine's Day!