Jean GriffinJean has kindly agreed to let me have a monthly guide to gardening for the site. She lives in Henfield, but worked for a number of years at Camelia Botnar in Maplehurst. She has also been a regular contributor to local radio phone in "Question Times" as well as being an expert on our own Gardeners Question Time at the Copsale Village Hall. Jean trained at Studley College and at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and  is now a moderator for City and Guilds Qualifications particularly using Horticulture as a therapy and vocation for persons with learning difficulties and disabilities. If you have any gardening questions you would like to ask, please do so in the forum. DT 11th February 02

February Gardening - In the hope that we get a bit of dry weather!

Following a lazy time over the winter, donít be in too great a hurry to dash out and put heart, soul and back into doing all those heavy jobs that you think you should have done in the Autumn. Remember that when a tortoise wakes up ,he eases into life thus making sure that he doesnít hurt himself by overdoing it.

Keep off the land as much as possible until there have been some dry days. 

Indoor lettuce seed can be sown now, some varieties are specifically bred for February sowing, one good variety is NOVITA. If you havenít got ground space in the greenhouse or conservatory, transplant your seedlings into a grow bag.
Where the soil has already been worked and is fit to be walked on, parsnip seeds can be sown. By sowing now you will encourage production of those lovely fat roots 

Softwood cuttings can be taken now if you have a little heat to start them off. Fuchsias, geraniums {Pelargoniums} and even some of the herbaceous perennials grow well from soft wood tips. 

Plant hardy perennials and shrubs.

Donít be tempted to buy half hardy plants unless you have a heated environment in which to grow them on.

Split and pot up herbaceous perennials, clumps of Iris ,Phlox and Michaelmas Daisies benefit from division. This technique prolongs the life of the plants and swapping plants with friends is a good way of finding new plants for your own garden.

Jean Griffin (F.I. Hort) 13th February 02