Gardener’s Corner at The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens: February
James Cross, Head Gardener and Property Manager
February is a hectic month in the gardens, and providing it’s not too cold, there is a diverse range of tasks for the garden team to complete. January was an average month, starting very mild but at times very wet, which meant we were busy with the sluice gates and unable to access some of the borders! The second half of January was a little colder than average. The cold weather was a shock to the system, but as a result, we expect the weather to be milder in February. This means that spring will be much earlier than usual – something we are becoming more accustomed to.
The snowdrops will peak mid-month, and daffodils will also be prolific by the end of February. We will be clearing and pruning throughout the borders, applying organic fertiliser and mushroom compost in places. We will also finish cutting the yew hedges.
February’s main task will be the creation of a new winter border at the back of the Wells Border. The new winter border will be as colourful and scented as the existing ones within the inner gardens. However, we will use completely different plants, including bright red/yellow and orange Salix Yelverton. The border will glow behind the well pool and be eye-catching once the Wells Border is cleared and pruned each winter.
Our winter plantings stand out at this time of year, and if you can incorporate some of these plants, you will have some serious winter interest. Plants like Daphnes with their beautifully scented pink, white and purple flowers, Witch Hazels like ‘Jelena’ with their orange flowers or ‘Diane’ with copper-red flowers. Pallida has sulphur-yellow flowers. Most are delicately scented. Lonicera Fragrantissima is winter honeysuckle and well worth planting at the back of a border for its strong scent. Choose one or two Dog Woods for striking red, green, yellow or black stems. My favourite winter flowering plant is Edgeworthia Chrysantha ‘Red Dragon’ with silvery white buds opening to orange-red flowers with more than thirty flowers per head. It’s a star plant with a gentle scent and grows well in most soils, although it does not like it too hot or dry.
The Bishop’s Palace garden team look forward to welcoming you here in February.