Alan, a 3rd generation Nurseryman has been working on the family nursery for 23 years. His experience in gardening includes, designing award winning RHS displays, maintaining gardens, big and small and growing plants commercially for garden centres and the gardeners alike. These are his top picks for February 2024.
Alan's top plants for buying in February 2024
Spring is just around the corner and if you are anything like me, you are looking forward to getting into the garden. February can be one of the coldest months of the year, but it does not mean we cannot get the garden started. Traditionally, this is the time of year we start planting indoors, the conservatory or greenhouse. This gives us the head start, and once the weather warms up a bit, our plants are ready to go. This is my selection of the best plants to buy in February, which will improve our garden in the warmer months to come.
Lemon grass is best known as an addition to curry pastes, and it is true that this plant is an essential ingredient to many Asian dishes. When it comes to growing the plant, it may surprise you how successfully it can be grown in the UK. This is the perfect greenhouse, windowsill, or conservatory herb, which, come the warmer months is very happy on the patio. Where our lemon grass is different from many others, is that it is grown from cuttings, why is that important? Well, lemon grass grown from seed, can take many years to mature into a usable stem, (which it the part you use) in fact, in the UK it may never bulk up enough. But growing from a sturdy and established cutting raised stem, you can have usable stems by the Summer.
Upright Geranium Flower fairy
If you are looking for the perfect Upright Geranium for your containers, the Flower fairy maybe just what you are looking for. This colourful range has a bushy and compact habit, with uniform growth. This very free flowering series has some wonderful two-toned blooms, such as the pink/violet blooms of Flower Fairy Violet, or the lovely deep burgundy and light pinks of Flower Fairy Velvet. As you would expect from an Upright Geranium, they grow very well in the UK climate, coping with very hot weather, as well as the down pours we can get.
One of the most useful and most loved herbs. French tarragon is an essential herb across Europe, but especially in French cuisine. Although dried tarragon is readily available, there is nothing that can substitute fresh French tarragon. This herb can only be grown from cuttings, but the good news is it can be grown well in the UK, in containers as well as in the garden. For any keen cook, this is a must-have plant.
Salvias have become one of the most popular garden plants in the UK over the past 5 years. This is no surprise, their vibrant colours, long flowering period, and ability to cope with nearly every weather situation, has turned them into a much-loved plant.
It is not only their looks which attract us to these plants, they are loved by bees and butterflies alike. Standout varieties in the range include the vibrant purple of Salvia Amistad or the duo-coloured bloom of Salvia Cherry Lips, with its bright pinks and white flowers. There really is a Salvia for everyone.
If you don't know the herb lemon verbena, you have really been missing out. Over the last decade it has grown in popularity and has featured in many a celebrity recipe. Having grown the plant for over 40 years, it is no surprise to us why it is so popular. The first time you smell this wonderful herb, you are overcome by the wonderful lemon Sherbert scent. These leaves are easy to harvest and can be used in cooking, teas, baking and much more. It really is a must have herb.
But you may not have tried some of the more unusual mints. Varieties such as Banana, Mojito, Berries and Cream and many more.
The fantastic thing about mint, is it is easy to grow, as well as working in the garden, we love to grow our plants in containers, where they can be placed next to the back door, making them easy to pick for adding to cocktails, teas and dishes.
Trailing Fuchsias are the stars of the hanging basket and container world. Their vibrant blooms, long flowering time, and willingness to keep on producing colour for your garden are unmatched.
There is an endless variety when it comes to Trailing Fuchsias, from pure whites to deep purples, you are sure to find a colour that suits your pallet. Some standout varieties in the range, are the apricot orange's blooms of Bicentennial, the blousy purple flowers of Royal Mosaic and the lovely pure white of Happy Wedding Day.
Also known as Columbine, or Granny’s bonnet, this new range of Aquilegia bring you the same fantastic flowers, but earlier in the year. You will start to see the first blooms in May, which will continue until early August. The whole of the range is happy in full sun to partial shade and will add colour to your late spring garden year after year.
Which Aquilegia: EarlyBird Red Yellow
The interesting shape of Aquilegia are attractive in their own right. This is even more the case with Earlybird Red Yellow. The centre of the blooms is a lovely creamy yellow colour, which is contrasted with a stunning background of red. I can’t think of two better colours to brighten up your garden.