Head Gardener shares his February gardening jobs

February 01 2024 | Garden

Head Gardener Neil Miller shares his February gardening jobs.

I’m beginning to see white spots in front of my eyes after planting thousands of snowdrops in the green this month ahead of our snowdrop-themed month at Hever Castle.  Our planting this year takes our grand total of snowdrops in the garden to 140,000. 

Visitors love to take a self-guided tour of the snowdrops and follow them down Sunday Walk to Church Gill, where former owner William Waldorf Astor and his family once walked. We also have tens of thousands of Galanthus nivalis rippling beside the Outer Moat.

We add to our display every year and carefully wait and watch for the special varieties that we’ve planted in the Winter Garden like ‘colossus (a large snowdrop at 9 inches)

 ‘Grumpy’ Galanthus elwesii – a delicate snowdrop with distinctive green markings that depict a grumpy face, ‘Wendy’s Gold’ and Galanthus ‘Green Brush’ with its unusual green tipped flowers.

If you’ve ever wanted to grow a snowdrop collection, this is the month to head out to the snowdrop plant fairs in Kent and Sussex where you’ll find unusual and rare varieties of these delicate beauties.

February is a great time to clean out the greenhouse.  So, turn the radio up, sing loudly and sweep and clean with verve – you may be in the warmest place in the garden but you’ll need to dance to keep your blood pumping!  Make sure you clear the greenhouse of any fungus and moss that may have collected.  It’s a good idea to wash down the staging and your trays before the planting season begins.

This is also a fantastic time of year to give your gardening tools an audit – don’t forget to mend the spade with the dodgy handle (you know the one – right at the back of the tool shed!)  With all your tools in order and the greenhouse and potting shed ship-shape, you’ll feel a renewed energy for the year ahead, which is already starting to show promise with crocus and snowdrops poking their heads through the earth.

I have received a few queries from gardeners and visitors asking whether it’s too late to plant their tulip bulbs.  Ours are all in the ground in preparation for our Celebration of Spring event but, if you’re quick, and while the ground is still soft enough, there is still time to get your bulbs in.  You might even find some bargain basement ones going cheap in the nurseries!

If you didn’t manage to split and divide your snowdrops last March as they finished flowering, then you can buy them green from the end of the month and plant them in semi-shade where they won’t dry out.  If you are planting some green for this year, then make sure that the soil is rich with well-rotted compost – or organic matter – and also make sure you plant them as soon as you get them! It’s worth noting that snowdrops are on the CITES list of endangered plants, so ensure that you purchase from stock and not from somewhere that has harvested them in the wild. 

The snowdrop is not just a beautiful indication of the coming spring but it’s also a plant that has played an important role over the last 50 years in the medicinal management of memory loss.