This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
February is a month demanding much active labour, but it is rendered easy and pleasant by its immediate results. Nature is impatient to exhibit her treasures, and every gentle shower and warm sunbeam tells wonderfully on vegetable life. The buds on the trees swell, and in some cases display a line of tender green, heralding the coming leaf. Bulbs are peeping up every where, indicating, in some instances, the colour of their flowers through the transparent sheath. Greenhouse plants begin to grow rapidly, and require repotting, if not done before. Thus, every day has imperative duties, all of which are accompanied by actual pleasures, since the amateur sees close in prospect the reward of his patient exertions.
Those Hyacinths, Crocuses, or early Tulips, which have done flowering in the sitting-room, should be turned out into a warm sheltered border, that they may recover themselves in some degree from the unnatural excitement to which they have been exposed. I have seen rough gardeners, in the performance of these operations, make a little round hole, and thrust the roots into it in a very unceremonious manner; but it is believed the natural kindness of ladies for all that has life will preserve them from such barbarity. A Hyacinth removed from the water-glass should have its roots nicely arranged in good sandy soil, pressed equally on all sides of them, so as not to break them; bulbs grown in pots should have the ball of earth squeezed a little, so as to counteract the spiral form which the roots will have taken in their search for a more congenial position. By kind treatment such forced plants will make good border flowers, whereas neglect will render them valueless. Those bulbs which have not yet bloomed will require more water as the season advances.
If your stock is large, the flowering may be retarded by placing the pots in an aspect where they will have no sun.
In the garden, the flower-beds should receive attention, by raking and the removal of every thing which is unsightly. Beds of Tulips and other bulbs should have the surface-soil lightened and put in order, not with a rake, which would be likely to injure the advancing foliage, but with a blunt knife or pointed piece of wood. Ranunculuses and Anemones should be planted this month, ample directions for which will be found in other parts of The Florist. Ladies should now decide what parts of the garden they mean to patronise themselves during the summer, and see that the stock for bedding out is in an advanced state. A glance should be given at the garden generally, that all vacant places may be supplied with shrubs and rose-trees, the removal of which should not be delayed. If not done at an earlier period, a layer of leaf-mould may now be spread over choice flowerbeds; it will give them a fine rich appearance, and promote the vigorous growth of the flowers they contain.
Energy and resolution are needed now, to prevent work accumulating: for the season will not stand still, and every week will bring its new and peculiar duties. I would say one word respecting the fear which is entertained respecting catching cold in open-air pursuits. The training of many ladies is bad in this respect, and they have been taught to dread fresh air, and to fancy there is pestilence in a foggy day. Where there are tendencies to disease, I will give no advice; but, in healthy subjects, sufficient clothing and brisk exercise will keep coughs and colds at a distance, even in very dull weather. Health will circulate in the veins, and hilarity sparkle in the eye, and natural carmine mantle on the cheek of those of our fair readers who accustom themselves to do the lighter parts of gardening with their own hands.
The Bury, Luton. Henry Burgess.