February Is Bloomin’ Lovely

Galanthus nivalis

 

Galanthus nivalis

They’ve arrived. The woodland floor is carpeted with snowdrops and Spring can be but a heartbeat away. Yes, we’ve had snow and ice this week. And winter storms have once again littered the paths with twigs and fallen branches. But where there are snowdrops there is hope.

 
 

 

Galanthus nivalis

Wild snowdrops are at their most impressive when large clumps spread into each other to form drifts. I was lucky enough to inherit the hundreds of thousands of bulbs which must inhabit the woodland here but that doesn’t stop me wanting more. In places the drifts are already extending themselves downhill but it seems to happen at glacial speed. Now is the time to help the process along by lifting and dividing congested clumps. In other areas the ‘drops have self seeded to create a more random effect but not always exactly where I might want them. After the flowers have faded, but whilst the bulbs are still ‘in the green’, it’s easy to move them about. Plonk half a dozen in a new hole with a little water. They may wilt initially but soon pick up and by next winter look as though they’ve been in their new positions for years.

 
 

Galanthus 'Chantry Taffeta'

 

Galanthus ‘Chantry Taffeta’

I do love those varieties with the seersucker petals. There was a rather special visit last week to one of my favourite private gardens, Little Ash near Honiton, Devon for a snowdrop day. Helen Brown also opens the garden twice a year for the NGS (here). Days of rain preceded Snowdrop Day and days of rain have followed it. And yet last Friday we had clear blue skies. It couldn’t have been better.

 
 
Galanthus elwesii 'Jessica'
 

Galanthus elwesii ‘Jessica’

Also on my wish list. How could I not. Until I looked it up online that is. £20 per single bulb. The mice will know this too won’t they. Michelin starred dining. Still, it’s good to know that Jessica is such a classy ‘drop.

  


 

Snowdrops spreading nicely at Little Ash, where Helen plants them in drifts under trees.

 
 

 

In a few months time these borders will be jam packed with summer perennials but for now the snowdrops steal the scene, expertly planted with other winter flowering bulbs such as aconites and, as here, Cyclamen coum.

 
 

Galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold'

 

Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

I suppose I should admit to a little indulgence..

 
 

Galanthus x hybridus 'Merlin'

 

Galanthus x hybridus ‘Merlin’

Oh very well then. Two little indulgences. I paid cash. Mike will never know.

 

It’s difficult to fathom where to go with the ‘specials’ from here. I started out growing them in the greenhouse where they didn’t really thrive. Perhaps it was too warm or too humid. So last year they were all planted out into the garden. Alas, with the mild temperatures so far this winter slugs abound, alive and kicking or whatever it is that molluscs do, and they have had a field day. I’m thinking it’s back to pots for the specials and a space in the cold frame. Where I can liberally scatter slug pellets without keeping myself awake at night. Any advice galanthophiles?

 
 

 

Hellebores all over the Little Ash garden were far more advanced than mine.

 
 

 

This is the best I can do so far. For memory it is a Harvington Double Pink.

 

Standing in the queue to pay for entry at Little Ash I overheard a conversation which struck fear into my heart. The lady in front of us was complaining that this year, for the first time, something has been eating her hellebores. It’s the same for me. I’d always thought they were bombproof and as such have, over the years, invested a not inconsiderable sum in these oh so cherished harbingers of Spring. My biggest and most established clump cut off in its prime. Every single flower bud. Munched. My most prized specimen of the Harvington Reds, with easily half a dozen gorgeous plump and deep burgundy buds has suffered a similar fate. There is absolutely nothing left of it above ground. But what could it be? The consensus was that rabbits are to blame. Flopsy may now have a tummy ache. And no, I won’t be running around with the Imodium. So far she hasn’t been back.

 
 
Iris reticulata 'J.S. Dijt'
 

Iris reticulata ‘J.S. Dijt’

Staying on home turf the irises have started to emerge this month.

 
 

Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'

 

Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

She is darker in colour than the light conditions in the photograph would have her appear. Planted in pots as autumn bulbs I have been watching the buds elongate all winter.

 
 

 

Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’ with Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’, the latter still going strong.

 
 
Geum 'Totally Tangerine'
 

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

And who would believe it, a geum in February? This has to be the earliest I have ever seen this geum, or any geum, bloom. Only the one flower mind.. and looking rather lonely it has to be said but there are more buds to come. Another sign of the relatively mild winter no doubt.

 
 
Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'
 

Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

Well you know how much I love a few clashing colours. But however mild the winter I can’t claim to be growing this outside. If nothing else the slimy ones would surely have devoured it by now. Or the rabbits. No, these blooms have been cheering up the greenhouse all winter long. I had meant to include them in last month’s bloomers and then forgot. They’re cuttings that I took last summer as overwinter insurance. A proper gardener would have cut off all the flower buds, diverting essential energy into the burgeoning roots, thus ensuring stronger plants for the year ahead. But could I do it? No.

 
 

 

Primula vulgaris

The wild primroses are gaining in presence with each passing day and will soon be covering the Devon banks with a haze of pale yellow.

 
 

 

Garden primrose

The proliferation of the wild species on the banks, in the hedgerows and increasingly all over the garden is enough for me. But occasionally something altogether more arresting pops up from nowhere. And should it prove sufficiently pleasing it is permitted to stay.

 
 

 

The river of pulmonaria on the Precipitous Bank. Returning reliably every year, stronger and ever more abundant than before.

For those in the northern hemisphere, keep the faith. Spring is coming.

 
 

Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you will find many more February bloomers from around the world.