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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for February

In February, our thoughts first go Valentine's Day with Cupid firing off his arrows of love. I can remember as a child picking out boxes of small Valentine cards at Woolworth's Dime store to give to classmates. They were adorned with flowers, funny valentine greetings and were appreciated by all. I really have not noticed in today's world with Email, Tik-Tok, texts, Instagram, and Facebook whether these silly little valentine cards are still sold. February can certainly be named the red and white month with a little chocolate thrown in. In order to get in the Valentine mood, I made a wonderful flower arrangement with red roses, Baby's Breath (gypsophila paniculate) and white carnations. A fact I was not previously aware of is that Baby's Breath is toxic and should not adorn cakes or other food., so be careful.

If we had planted daffodils, and narcissi, earlier this year, these should be coming up and blooming their heads off--harbingers of spring. Other blooming bulbs would be: Snowdrops(galanthus), crocus, iris reticulata, Helleborus, and cyclamen. Shrubs which are in bloom are camellias, Kiss -me-at-Gate, and perhaps some Japanese Magnolias budding out. Pansies, violas, candytuft and dianthus round out the mix this month. If your garden has none of the above, start planning for next February's garden by purchasing these harbingers of spring through the year.

What to plant this month for a spectacular early spring and early summer garden. I have planted tulips in early February, after 6 weeks of chill in the refrigerator, to great success. If fact I have even staggered the planting, some in early January, some in early February for a longer tulip sequence of bloom. My favorite look is to plant tulip bulbs amongst pansies and dianthus as it gives the pots or the garden a dramatic dynamic. Also experiment with different color combinations such as mixed colored tulips and mono chrome-colored flowers or vice versa. You want to achieve a uniform contrast rather than a cluttered mess. It is not too late to plant pansies, and dianthus with geraniums and begonias later. We call this a spring garden in progress. Both pansies and dianthus will bloom until the heat of the early summer. Seed that has been sown in the fall, such as poppies, larkspur should be breaking the soil for blooms next month. Also, this is the month to sow the seed of cleome, nasturtiums, petunias and zinnias directly into the ground.


A commonly known herb is one of the best small to medium sized shrubs one can place in the garden, pots or herb bed. Plant this perennial shrub in the spring for one of the most aromatic herbs known. Rosemary has many uses from culinary, to medicinal, to insect repellent, to cosmetic. The leaves, fresh or dried, can be used as an antiseptic, as a tonic and diuretic. Mostly we use Rosemary as a pungent flavoring for fish dishes, soups, marinades, egg dishes, and lamb. It is easy to grow, non-invasive and grows to about 3-4 feet high and can get to 5 feet tall. It would need some protection if the winter temps fell well below freezing. I have used this shrub in herb beds, flower beds, and pots.



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