2021

As years go, 2021 has already proven itself a bit of a challenge. Looking on the bright side, though, what fun it was that snow fell on a Sunday so all ages could hit the slopes for some socially-distanced sledging and all the hilarity, shrieking and cheerfulness that brings.
And continuing the cheerful theme, planting bare-root trees, hedging, shrubs, roses and soft fruit is top of the feel-good agenda. Unless the ground is waterlogged or frozen (in which case hold off until conditions are better), the otherwise sad little month of February earns its stripes by being the best time for bare-root planting.
Crocuses
Crocuses: now therein lies a conundrum. Croci or crocuses? The New York Times always uses croci (short words ending in vowels are useful apparently), but the norm is crocuses. A moot point, but what is certain is that a crocus is a jewel of a flower.

The first bulbs (more pedantry here – they’re technically corms) were brought from Constantinople to the Netherlands in 1560. Their zingy, early colour and elegant shape have been brightening lawns and pots ever since, although tragically the crocuses that grow in our cooler climes don’t produce the stamens that make saffron.
Iris
Reticulate irises: these lovely little plants bear three petalled blooms that flower heroically from January onwards, unlike the taller bearded counterparts of Van Gogh fame that appear in May and June. We reckon there should be a spot in everyone’s garden for Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’, its saturated sapphire and vibrant yellow combo a heart-warming sight on a chill winter morning.
Snowdrops
Snowdrops: we’ve banged the drum for snowdrops before, so suffice to say their emergence from the inertia of winter soil is one of nature’s marvels – as Wordsworth wrote, ‘Nor will I then thy modest grace forget, Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring…’
...BUT YOU COULD BE PLANTING...
Hedging: Once the snow has gone and holes you dig do not fill with water, they the ground is perfect for planting. Hedge plants love being planted as the days get longer and the soil begins to warm up again. They establish fast and grow away well and with the weather we are having they should not need watering until April. 
Bulbs ‘in the green’: snowdrops, bluebells and winter aconites prefer to be planted whilst still in growth. Order now for delivery from the end of February (weather permitting). They need a little TLC; gentle handling and planting as soon as possible, whereupon they will reward you, gentle reader, by establishing and flowering faster than the same variety planted in autumn.
Trees

We are very close to the last shout for ornamental trees. February is the last "good" month to be planting larger trees. They need a bit more time to get going than smaller hedge plants so they really need to be in the ground by the middle of March at the very latest. Our last lift is happening as soon as water levels have subsided, so order now for delivery later this month…
Bareroot Roses
As February is also a great month for planting roses (we still have some left), here is Andy showing you the right way to plant a bareroot rose


 
A monthly feature on interesting people who just love growing things...
Bruce Munro
BRUCE MUNRO
Half English and half Australian, Bruce’s light and land art installations have graced the international stage, exploring the connection between emotion and place in artworks that are frequently monumental and always spell-binding. His flashing 66,000 CD ‘Ribbon of Light’ along Long Knoll in Wiltshire has been inspiring onlookers since its creation early in 2020 to pay homage to and ‘raise both spirits and money for our courageous NHS and everyone who has worked tirelessly to keep us all safe during the Covid 19 epidemic’.
See the full interview here.
THE QUESTION ON EVERYONE’S LIPS…
Aconites
Every month our customer support team picks out a topic that has generated lots of questions from customers...

How do I plant Bulbs in the Green?

Get the full lowdown here
Compost

Forget diamonds being anyone’s best friend. Compost is your new BF. It’s the ultimate DIY eco-triumph, recycling organic waste into black gold to boost your soil quality and nurture your plants into rude and exuberant health.

 
It’s a simple equation; fruit and veggie leftovers, eggshells, coffee grounds, dry leaves, grass/plant clippings, bits of old newspaper and bark chippings from untreated wood in; compost out. Avoid dairy, meat, any form of grease or fat, citrus, onions and garlic. It’s not rocket science and whilst a compost heap may not be a thing of beauty, what it achieves is nothing short of miraculous.

And February is a great month to spread the joy around your beds and leave your wormy friends to do the work. Rain draws them to the surface and as they burrow down again, each wonderful wiggler drags some compost with them. The little darlings.
JOBS FOR THE GARDEN

A FEW TIPS FOR THE MONTH IF YOU HAVE THE TIME AND INCLINATION!

  • Prune wisteria, late-flowering clematis, jasmines, bush roses, coloured-leaved and winter-flowering shrubs, summer-flowering shrubs that flower on new wood and the old stems of herbaceous perennials.
  • Prune fruit trees and cut back autumn-fruiting raspberries to the ground and summer-fruiting ones to just above a bud.
  • Divide snowdrops.
Frankie Pizza Recipe
THE PERFECT ASHRIDGE PIZZA

There’s nothing quite like comfort food on a cold February day, nor anything quite like kneading the living daylights out of pizza dough to dispel the frustrations of lockdown! This delicious, easy recipe also ticks all the boxes for cooking with the children as a bit of light relief from homeschooling …

The quantities make two pizzas, fit for 2 people (and a small toddler). Just double all ingredients to make for a famished family of four.
Ingredients for the Dough
  • 325g Strong Flour
  • 3.5g Dried Yeast
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 12.5ml Olive Oil
  • 25ml Milk
  • 160ml Warm Water
Method:
  1. Mix all of the dried ingredients together.
  2. Drizzle the olive oil over and mix in.
  3. Gradually add the water and milk, whilst mixing to form a soft dough.
  4. Knead for 5 minutes and put the dough in a large bowl. Cover with a damp tea-towel and place in a warm area for about 1.5 - 2 hours (either in a sunny windowsill or warm airing cupboard).
  5. After 1.5 - 2 hours, knock the air out of the dough and knead again for another 3 minutes. Leave for a further hour to prove.
Keep reading to see the full recipe...
VALENTINE'S DAY
Roses
For the sake of world peace, don’t risk a last-minute gift from the back of the garage... An Ashridge voucher for a rose, a pair of bay trees or even bulbs in the green that will spread into drifts and last forever (how romantic is that?)…and your Valentine’s Day present problems are solved!
RECENT BLOGS
Our blogs are written by garden designers and passionate gardeners (not mutually exclusive) making them well informed and opinionated... So if you want ideas that may be relevant to your garden have a look at this month's scribblings:

Stop and Smell the Roses
SHOP CATEGORIES
Hedging
Soft Fruit
Bulbs in the Green
Fruit Trees
Dahlias
Garden Trees
Roses
Accessories
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Grove Cross Barn, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7NJ
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