Feet of clay?

POT LOOK: Scrub out used pots and containers.

POT LOOK: Scrub out used pots and containers.

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Itchy feet aren’t necessarily a sign of athlete’s foot; at this time of the year they are more likely to be a reminder that things are happening in the garden – and that’s where the gardener should be.

Sadly, while Nature appears to have a definite calendar, the weather doesn’t, so jobs that are possible to do one February may not be possible to do the next. If the ground is very wet or frozen, keep off.

But don’t sulk because there are plenty of things it’s possible to do – probably far too many things to fit in such a short space of time.

You can start by welcoming back the birds – make sure they have plenty of food and fresh water to help them set up home. A dog may be a man’s best friend but a blue tit, with its voracious appetite for many a garden pest, is a very valuable addition.

Then, if the weather allows, consider planting trees and shrubs, giving them the best start in life by excavating a generous hole for their roots, incorporating plenty of organic matter and then firming them in and, if necessary, giving them a stout and sturdy support to keep them stable during windy times.

Prune any winter-flowering shrubs that have finished blooming, and do the same to hardy evergreen shrubs and trees. While the shears are out, prune late-flowering clematis and trim winter jasmine if it has finished flowering.

Any outdoor container-grown plant s will be grateful for a top-dressing of fresh compost, perhaps with an addition of slow-release fertiliser. Some may need re-potting completely, particularly if they look a little water-logged.

Those people fortunate to have a greenhouse or potting shed where they can escape the wind and rain need never be short of something to do. Check and clean tools, scrub out used pots and containers, give the mower a going-over or take it to an expert for a pre-season service, sow seeds and even clean the glass – inside and out.

Anyone with any energy left can divide and replant spent snowdrops and other early-flowering bulbs, start stored dahlia tubers into growth and even check that the compost bin is working.

February is that nearly-time when the days are lengthening and there’s a hint of spring in the air. Enjoy it.

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