This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
In this department there is little which can be added in a calendar to what has been advised for January, - a general examination of the stock, young and old, to supply plants for the beds next season. Get growth active, so that vigorous cuttings may be had; weakly stunted ones are difficult to root, and are long in making good plants. When the cuttings are active they root without any check, and are large when they are turned out. This applies to Verbenas, Alternantheras, Iresines (the two last require to be in heat late, as they are tender and cannot be bedded out early), Heliotropes, Petunias, Fuchsias, etc. A good stock of hardy plants of fine foliage, such as Sedums, Cerastiums, Ajugas, Arabis of sorts, etc, are all useful, and can always meet a shortcoming. Pansies of the better class now so favourably known are most useful, especially where ground is rich and deep. Dahlias and Cannas kept as stove roots may be examined, and if the stock is short they may be potted, boxed, and placed into heat to be increased. Calceolarias may be taken from their cutting-pits and planted in turfy loam, to be afterwards lifted with balls to the beds. See that green-fly does not have its own way. Fumigate with tobacco-smoke where it appears.
Pot Geraniums, or plant them in pits, using turfy soil, which will adhere to the root when they are transferred to the beds : finer kinds, or those which may be scarce, should not be put with the general stock. All hardy plants in pits or frames must be kept free from damp by abundance of air. Slugs may be lurking among the plants; they should have fresh lime thrown in their tracks. All hardy plants to flower in pots, such as Chrysanthemums, Lobelia cardinalis, etc, should be kept away from the bedding-stock, so that they may have proper treatment. Shrubs and trees may be planted when ground is in condition; but Evergreens we would prefer leaving till they were about to grow in April.
Climbers on walls and wire-work should be regulated, and what training is required may be done without delay. It would be difficult to state how all plants should be pruned, but as a general principle, none should be allowed to become crowded or matted. Some kinds, such as Jasmines, do well when spurred; others cannot be touched with the knife to be of any service, except the whole of the old shoots are cut out and replaced with young ones; but to leave them alone is to allow them to run wild and become worthless. It is better to fix nails to remain permanently, and tie the branches to them, than to use shreds, and be driving nails often. Wires to train climbers to are the most economical, and always most sightly.
The planting of Crocus, Tulips, Hyacinths, Narcissus, Jonquils, Scillas, and other bulbs, should be finished as early as possible; and all plants considered in danger of being injured by frost should be protected by Ferns or fine coal-ashes. Old tan is useful for the purpose. Clean, trim, and replant herbaceous plants not already done. Those which have been marked early in the season to have their positions changed may now be attended to. A herbaceous border to be effective must be arranged with consummate care. Dwarf kinds smothered up by tall growers - scattering roots through the ground when digging is going on - allowing them to unduly monopolise space, - are some of the evils vol uncommon in the management of herbaceous borders. If they have become much deranged, it is best to lift all the plants, arrange them in order on spare ground, trench and manure the border in which they are to be planted, and place them in their position, with plenty of space between each.
Herbaceous plants look well in groups arranged on carpets of Sedum, or some other dwarf covering to the soil. Beds edged with such plants as Arabis and others may be prepared and planted with shrubs or spring-flowering plants. They should have the same care as to keeping as given to summer bedders.
Rolling and sweeping will require much attention till all the leaves are off the trees. Turfing, walk-turning, gravelling, and all such work, may have attention when it can be done. All shrub-planting not completed this month had better stand over till February and onwards. Evergreens do well till April. They are then about to push into growth, and move on unchecked. Avoid planting out of views or cutting up greensward. Curtailing lawns, by cutting up the space into beds, is not uncommon, but very objectionable; and many places, large and small, are ruined by it.