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Pacific Northwest Gardener’s February Checklist

February is an exciting time in our region’s gardens. This is the month when we go from planning to doing. Dust off those gardening gloves and enjoy a few leisurely hours doing what gardeners do best — puttering.

Does your garden need a little something? This is a great excuse to head to your favorite nursery and see what’s shining this month. While you’re there be sure to pick up seeds for your favorite flowers and vegetables. Of course, you can’t possibly come home without at least one new rose, can you? My favorites are the ultrafragrant English roses. What about you?

And can you honestly resist those cute little pots of pansies, primroses and dwarf daffodils? Just a couple of dollars and you’ll give your winter containers a new lease on life.

Consider me your personal gardening and shopping coach! February highlightsThere should be something in your garden that brings you joy every month of the year — maybe it’s unexpected fragrance or a bright splash of color. Or perhaps it’s the birds a particular plant attracts.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis) has all three of those qualities thanks to its spidery flowers this month. Be sure to include at least one of these great shrubs in your winter garden.

Plan a vegetable garden. With so many gardening books available, how do you choose? I have to confess I have quite a few — each invaluable for different reasons. This book by Steve Solomon is considered the number-one publication for reliable Pacific Northwest information — add it to your library.

Start sowing. Gather your seeds, check the planting dates and start sowing. I love spending a few hours in my green house when it’s cold and blustery outside. The wonderful earthy smell reminds me that spring isn’t too far away.

Salad greens are easy to start now in an unheated greenhouse, with a layer of row cover for protection on especially frosty nights or under hoops outside. These greens make a great cut-and-come-again crop and taste so much better when they go from garden to table in just minutes.

A cold frame also extends the harvest and leaves extra room inside the greenhouse. It is also invaluable for hardening off seedlings next month as you get them ready to be transplanted into the garden.

Move the mason bees outside. Now is the time to wake those mason bees up! Place them where they will receive warm sun but are protected from rain.

We made this simple mason bee condo using scrap lumber and pieces of downspout pipes. The tubes at the top are filled with mason bee cocoons, while the lower ones are ready to be filled by the next generation of bees.

We had to modify this design, however. Swallows nested in the apex the first year and feasted on breakfast in bed. So we’ve since added some fine mesh so the bees can come and go in peace.

Or you can create a habitat for a multitude of pollinators by providing a seasonal assortment of flowers and tubes — decorative as well as functional.

Start your sweet peas. Surely sweet peas are one of the highlights of a summer garden. Their intoxicating fragrance and romantic color blends make them a must-have for a sunny spot. Nurseries usually carry seedlings, but they are so easy to grow yourself. Renee’s Garden is considered one of the top seed sources for sweet peas.

Make tubes from newspaper, pack them gently with potting soil and add one seed (soaked overnight in water) per tube. Each seedling will develop a much deeper root system than those in shallow nursery pots, and the entire tube can later be planted in the garden.

This is a fun project to do with children of all ages.

Plant roses. Bare-root and potted roses are available this month. Look for those with multiple strong canes and an outward-facing structure.

Ask your nursery professional for advice on which ones are disease resistant, fragrant, heirloom varieties or long bloomers. There are so many to choose from.

Care for containers. Give your containers a mini makeover by tucking in some dwarf spring bulbs. You don’t even need to plant the bulbs — just hide the nursery pot in the surrounding foliage. ‘Tete a Tete’ daffodils, are one of my favorites, with each bulb throwing up multiple flowers. Echo the colors already in your container for a cohesive look.

Treat yourself at your favorite nursery, find your trowel and enjoy your garden this month.

Courtesy of Houzz

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