Discover articles on garden design, seasonal planting tips for your garden and other news and views from Gillian Goodson Designs.

February’s love

Highly fragrant  Edgeworthia chrysantha  ‘Grandiflora’  (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Highly fragrant Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Grandiflora’ (Gillian Goodson Designs)

Hold onto your heart it’s February! A month where sunny days are sandwiched between blustery, grey ones; may your heart spill over with love in celebration of Cupid while you roam the garden looking for hints of spring. Whether your love is an all-consuming, passionate, shout-it-from-the-hilltops kind of love or one that’s quietly simmering away… appreciate its uniqueness and that of your garden.

Shrubs are making a long-awaited comeback. One such worthy of a sunny or light shaded, sheltered spot in the garden is the deciduous Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Grandiflora’ (paperbush – 1.5m tall). It has clusters of white buds opening to highly fragrant, small tubular yellow flowers from February to April. Harder to source but just as intoxicating to winter insects is E. chrysantha ‘Red Dragon’. They are closely related to the evergreen Daphnes. D. bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ needs little introduction – if you are looking for variegation, try D. odora Aureomarginata or the lesser known D. odora Rebecca = ‘Hewreb’. 

For a shaded woodland area, and for those with ericaceous or acid soils (or a large pot!), then there’s the early flowering Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ (2m at maturity). Rewarding you with blush pink flowers from now through to April.

For winter stem, it’s hard to beat Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (dogwood). It is true to its name with flame-coloured stems that are most effective in full sun and planted in groups. Great for damp to wet soil and fabulous for adding year-round interest.

Visit and support your local gardens – be on the lookout for ‘snowdrop week’ when places such as Easton Walled Gardens near Grantham open their gardens to tickle and delight you with various types of snowdrops, winter aconites, hellebores and a host of other late winter inspirations.

For those sunnier days, cut old growth at the base as new growth appears on deciduous ornamental grasses, prune apple and pear trees, lift and reposition mature deciduous shrubs, feed and put water out for the birds, plant bare-rooted trees including fruit.

Should you not quite be ready to put up bunting and broadcast your love with a megaphone, or perhaps it’s an unrequited love, surround yourself with those whom buoy and cheer you – to friends who are proud of you whether or not you have a love that’s made for that silver screen.