After a burst of enthusiasm to get out in the garden on New Year’s Day my excitement had been dampened down by the snow and cold. February is always a turning point in the gardening year for me. Slowly there are signs of Spring. Daylight hours are beginning to get longer and the first flowers of the year are emerging from the frozen earth. I spotted a couple of blue tits checking out our nest box the other day.
One of my favourite flowers are snowdrops. They aren’t fancy or frilly and don’t shout from the roof tops `Look at me!’ like the cheerful yellow daffodil. However snowdrops are the first brave flowers to emerge when the February Chill keeps me inside. This months Gardeners World Magazine describes the pleasure of seeing `snowdrops washing gloriously through the Winter woods – the pleasure is in the sheer mass of white flowers, rather than the detail.’ I must admit my snowdrops are disappointing. Although I tried to plant a clump of them underneath the apple tree, the bulbs seem to have been eaten by the rather greedy squirrels which visit our garden mistaking them for nuts. We do have the odd lonely sporadic snowdrop but they are scattered across the beds and couldn’t be described as drifts unlike the glorious display in Dorchester Abbey grounds.
I can’t decide whether to try grow more snowdrops next year or simply to give into the squirrels and enjoy them in the wild.
When other plants are trying to hide under the cover of the earth I am always amazed by my beautiful hellebores (sometimes known as Christmas or Lenten Rose). I have several varieties of hellebore that are blooming marvellously in my garden. Hellebores do seem at odds with nature as they are so pretty and are quite happy surviving in harsh cold frosty conditions. Hellebores can have single or double flowers and come in shades of white, red, pink or green and some have plum spotted throats. I have four varieties in bloom at the moment.
Helleborus Orientalis `Double Queen’ is a frilly double form of Lenten Rose which I obtained from Nottcutts Garden Centre.
The other white blooms I have are from Helleborus x ericsmithii `Winter Moonbeam’. Helleborus x ericsmithii is a hybrid between the sub alpine Helleborus niger and a hybrid ( x sternii) both of which parents are from Mediterranean Islands, but the mix is one of the best of all Hellebores. Winter Moonbeam has attractive marbled leaves with pure single white blooms flushed with pink held clear above the foliage on red stems. I have two other varieties of Hellebore in bloom in my garden. One delightful flower is Helleborus Orientalis Tutu – a rare double pleated Hellebore which looks like a pretty pinky purple ballerina’s tutu.
Hellebore Orientalis Tutu
The last variety of Hellebore in my garden has lost it’s label so I would welcome verification of it’s name from any Hellebore expert!
I grow a lot of classic cottage garden flowers including our native wild flowers. As February is progressing I have a good show of native primroses in the garden – primula vulgaris. The garden centres are full of brash polyanthus and primroses in bold, vibrant colours at the moment. They are fine in a colourful display in pots by the front door, however I prefer the pretty pale yellow flowers of our native primrose. The primrose is another flower which symbolises to me that Spring is on its way. My Uncle picked a small bunch of primroses from the woods for my mum when she was born in March. We often remember her birthday with a woodland walk. Apart from the native primrose I have another variety in bloom in the garden called `Emily’ which is a similar yellow colour.
I do have a slightly more ornate primula Polyanthus `Gold Laced’ although I still think she is a delicate beauty.
Dotted amongst the primroses in my garden are violets, which are also a native woodland plant.
It’s lovely seeing all the signs of Spring in my garden. Next month I will be getting busy. I have started off my seed potatoes chitting and it will soon be time to start sowing seeds in the greenhouse. I look forward to sharing more pictures of my emerging garden.