Talented Sydenham-based horticulturalist George Long, owner of landscape design company Well Grounded Gardens, shares his romantic February column:
Saying it with flowers
We all know red roses are the symbol of love but flowers have been used to convey meanings for centuries all over the world with many historical and literary references such as Hamlet (Act IV Scene V): “There’s Rosemary for remembrance”.
This art was mainly popularised by the Victorians and became known as Floriography.
There are various books available that list plants and their meanings, but the one I use is The Language of Flowers by the noted children’s author Kate Greenaway (1846-1901).
Red roses also have a meaning of bashful shame whereas the flower that said a declaration of love for the Victorians and also the Ottoman Empire was in fact red tulips.
Flowers can also have somewhat sinister meanings.
Today we view a yellow rose as symbol of friendship but to the Victorians a yellow rose symbolised a decrease of love or jealousy while the beautiful Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) has a hidden meaning of insincerity.
Of course, it is all down to interpretation but using the book you could plant things in a border or give floral gifts to symbolise feelings.
Here are a few suggestions of varieties of plants to say something about love and emotion in your borders:
Tulipa ‘Kingsblood’ (Red Tulip) – Declaration of love
Chrysanthemum ‘Ruby Mound’ (Red Chrsyanthemum) - I love
Heliotropium arborescens – Devotion
Veronica austriaca subsp. teucrium 'Crater Lake Blue' – Fidelity
Prunus persica var. nectarina ‘Lord Napier’ (Peach blossom) – I am your captive
Dianthus ‘Brympton Red’ (Single Red Pink) – Pure love
Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not) – True love
Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ (Spindle Tree) – Your charms are engraved on my heart
Seasonal tips for February/March
The snow and frost are making it harder to do garden chores but once it starts to warm up you can apply organic fertilisers, start planting trees and shrubs, prune winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering, prune summer flowering shrubs, start potting plants inside ready for transplanting outside in spring and cut back overgrown shrubs before birds start nesting in them.