March Is Bloomin’ Lovely

Viburnum x bodnantense


Viburnum x bodnantense

This is the first time it has flowered all winter. I suppose that’s not surprising. It’s one of the most recent victims of the now infamous rusty duck ‘restoration prune’. The haircut of a lifetime, babe. There were so many shrubs growing out of control when we arrived here that I’ve staggered their treatment. Partly because I didn’t want the garden to look like a scene from the apocalypse and partly because I wasn’t at all sure it would work. With confidence levels increasing, the shears make a more regular appearance these days. Perhaps in hindsight I was rather too gentle with the viburnum. This year I might take it back a bit more. In the meantime I am happy with my solitary blooming twig. The bees are making the most of it too.




Obligatory hybrid narcissus


It’s been a crazy month for weather. I wrote about the ‘Beast From The East’ and Storm Emma in a recent post but between the snow, wind and rain we’ve had the occasional glimpse of something a bit more pleasant. Only occasional mind. My feeling was that Spring in the garden is arriving later this year but looking back at previous posts it isn’t necessarily the case, although the daffodils are definitely having a poor year. Perhaps they suffered the effects of the big freeze at a less than opportune moment. It’s forecast to be cold in the week ahead as well.

The primula and pulmonaria of last month are all still going strong.



But if it’s March it can only mean one thing really. Yep, it’s the Hellebore Fest!

 Hellebores seem almost impervious to the cold, if not from being eaten. I may have put Flopsy bunny in the frame prematurely. One of the more interesting outcomes of the lying snow was the number of footprints left by night wandering critters. One set of tracks, clearly deer, leapt the handrail next to the 84 steps and continued on up the hill.. right through the area where most of the nibbled hellebores are located. There is a strong case for firing up Duck Cam once again and I am evaluating the battery situation.



Helleborus ‘Harvington Double Pink’


Helleborus orientalis 'Anja Oudolf'


Helleborus orientalis ‘Anja Oudolf’


Helleborus 'Penny's Pink'


Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink’

Helleborus 'Harvington Double Yellow Speckled'

Helleborus ‘Harvington Double Yellow Speckled’


Helleborus 'Harvington Apricot'


Helleborus ‘Harvington Apricot’


Enough of my years have passed in this garden for a trend to start emerging with hellebores. The plants that I grow from seed, or that have kindly volunteered themselves, establish more quickly and form larger, more robust clumps. The named hybrids take much longer to settle in. I suppose that’s not surprising either. If the latter spend most of their lives in the protected environment of a polytunnel to suddenly find themselves stuck in a hole on a cold and wet Devon hillside is going to come as a bit of a shock. But of course the self seeded plants are a lottery when it comes to garden worthiness. With the named hybrids you know what you’re getting. And who could deny that they are truly marvellous to behold.


Moraea loubseri


Moraea loubseri

A South African bulb which would only survive in a protected environment in this neck of the woods. This year it has offered up four blooms so far, each lasting two or three days. The foliage will then die down and the bulb must be kept completely dry over the summer making it a permanent greenhouse resident in the moist lushness of Devon. Luckily it is no trouble and takes up relatively little room. And what a treat in March if, as now, it is far too horrible to be gardening outside.


Mahonia aquifolium


Mahonia aquifolium

A ray of sunshine picked out this cluster of tiny blooms. It isn’t up there with the statuesque shrubby mahonias, this species barely reaches two feet tall for me. I grow it for tough, evergreen, ground cover up on the bank where it gently spreads and helps to bind the soil. The leaves, purple tinted in winter, provide a good foil for the flowers.




Camellia NoID

I’ll finish up with a couple of camellias. The single flowered version of my two fluorescent pink inherited shrubs is taking a year off. Someone attacked it with a pair of shears. No, really? Surely not. This one is fearing that it could be next. It might be.


Camellia japonica 'Adeyaka'


Camellia japonica ‘Adeyaka’

To my minimalist eye, much the better plant. Although it does display some worryingly yellow leaves. Sequestered iron may be what it needs. Oh this gardening lark, it provides so many different challenges doesn’t it?


Linking to Carol and Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens (here), where you will find a host of March bloomers from around the world.


2018-03-15T08:50:24+00:00March 15th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. Shirley March 15, 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Hello there, what a sight for sore eyes first thing in the morning your images are! Your hellebores especially. My flower search was in the dark last night but it was good to include some blooms in an overdue garden update. Happy GBBD 🙂

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Hi Shirley and welcome.
      It’s hard to find much blooming now but we’re in the right place.. at the very start of a new gardening season. It won’t be long. I continue to believe that even as I watch the snow getting ever nearer on the weather radar!!

  2. pollymacleod March 15, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Your hellebores are beautiful Jessica. Daffodils are only just flowering here. Your posts fill me with such inspiration then I stand in my messy garden in despair wondering where to start, and it’s probably the size of a postage stamp compared to yours! I’m not going to do very much with my allotment this year though, so that will free up more time to devote to the garden.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

      I must admit I pretty much gave up growing vegetables last year. Partly because it takes up so much time but also because most of it ended up getting eaten and not by me! Now I just grow tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, plus a few salad leaves, in the greenhouse where I can better protect them. The garden here is messy too I can assure you.

  3. Backlane Notebook March 15, 2018 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Lovely images and great to get the named variety of those hellebores-I always lose my labels.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

      The blog has saved my bacon on many an occasion. New plants tend to feature while they’re pristine, at which time I can still remember what they are and might even still have the label! All I need to do is look back and find the picture to identify things that have been here longer.

  4. Susan Garrett March 15, 2018 at 10:09 am - Reply

    It’s amazing how the hellebores recover from being flattened by snow.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

      I feared for them in the snow last time and they did pick up remarkably well. I hope the same will be true this weekend. It’s getting cold amazingly fast today. It will be a short sharp shock for sure.

  5. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) March 15, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    I want to, after viewing your pictures, run out and get a bunch of hellebores. My two are slumbering beneath snow, along with everything else. Maybe next month? Your garden will help sustain me, in the meantime.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:53 am - Reply

      It was a brief respite from the snow here, we have it back again this weekend. Not feet of the stuff such as you get but quite enough for a country that is always unprepared for it.

  6. Jacqueline Mumford March 15, 2018 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    WOW Jessica …. you have so much colour in your garden …. all I have is the mahonia … our hellebores gave up the ghost last year .. they were old !! BUT, everything else is starting to burst into life. XXXX

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

      It’s a stop start affair this Spring isn’t it. Gosh I will be glad when we finally get rid of winter!

  7. Sam March 15, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Beautiful colour in your garden, Jessica, and…. wait…. is that sunshine??!! We had some of that yesterday (I dried sheets on the line outside for the first time this year) but we’re back to grey damp today. I love your hellebores and that single camellia (the doubles are too frilly for me). Hopefully your V. bodnantense will continue to go from strength to strength and waft its delicious scent all around. Roll on proper spring!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      I am so over winter now. It’s hung around quite long enough thank you. We had a couple of days last week when it was almost pleasant to be outside and in the greenhouse I managed without a coat. How that has changed.

  8. Peter/Outlaw March 15, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Your gorgeous hellebores are swoon-worthy. Spring has definitely declared war on old man winter. Thank goodness spring always wins. Happy GBBD!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Spring does always win, thank goodness. But sometimes, as now, we have to wait for it. Perhaps that makes it all the better when it eventually arrives.

  9. Christina March 15, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    A very beautifully coloured post. Many bloggers are craving colour and I am one of them. With regard to Viburnum x bodnantense; it is much better pruned one in three stems right down to the base to maintain the lovely ‘vase’ shape.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      I was looking at the Vxb yesterday and noticed that there are some woody stems in the centre which, if I can get at them with the loppers, really do need to come out. But I want to reduce the height of the shrub too, if I can. Whether I can do that without loss of blooms remains to be seen.

  10. Sarah March 15, 2018 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    Your hellebore collection is gorgeous, so many different varieties. Apart from the daffodils and hellebores there isn’t much flowering here. Our camellia hasn’t even produced a flower yet, in the past we have had it blooming since before Christmas! Sarah x

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      It’s odd isn’t it, how things can be so different year on year. Perhaps your camellia knew what a vicious late winter we had in store.

  11. Kris P March 15, 2018 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Your hellebore extravaganza had me sighing with a mix of admiration and envy as those plants are doing nothing here this year. I’ve had just 2 blooms, both on a plant I only recently acquired. Yours may bow to the rain and snow but I think mine are in still in a snit over the 80F temperatures we experienced in January. That Moraea is intriguing – it might like our rain-less summers (or perhaps I should say our rain-less springs-through-falls).

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      It sounds like the Moraea would be perfectly at home with you. Although mine looks like it has produced a baby bulb this year so I must be doing something right.

  12. ginaferrari March 15, 2018 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful range of Hellebores you have… they are so pretty.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gina. They cheer me up at this time of year when otherwise the garden is looking pretty grim!

  13. Cortney March 15, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Your Hellebores are beautiful! I’m ripe with envy as we are still snow covered. I’ve only got the arrival of buds on trees and shrubs to get me through. Thank you for sharing them with us!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Our Spring seems to have been put on hold by another fall of snow this morning and yet more freezing temperatures. Just when we too had fresh shoots appearing.

  14. Charles March 15, 2018 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Beast from the east two is on the way. The greenhouse is overcrowded with new plants, the tomatoes, last years cuttings the frost tender pot plants still hiding etc etc. Everyday I want to play and I have run out of room. I hope this is winters last laugh!

    Your helibores are a triumph, mine a shabby embarrassment, I too have a lot of late daffodils and my lawn squelches….

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I see we now have an amber weather warning. I have done some emergency fleece work this morning and have now moved into hibernation mode. I trust red wine supplies are holding out?

  15. germac4 March 15, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    As always I am inspired by your Hellebores & the spring flowers generally look gorgeous!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks Gerrie. Hellebores are the plants I most look forward to because they herald the start of Spring. Even with snow on the ground!

  16. Ali March 15, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Those Harvington hellebores are just stunning! I walked past Viburnum bodnatense during my lunchtime walk yesterday, and the scent made me stop and go back for more!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      It’s lovely isn’t it. I do need to get more of the scented winter blooming shrubs.

  17. hb March 15, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    March has brought strange weather to us as well, though “strange’ in a good way–after perhaps the driest winter on record, March has brought a bit of rain followed by a bit more rain followed by a little bit more, and more, and more, a few tenths of an inch at a time. Our all-important Sierra snow pack, which stood at 7% of normal is suddenly nearing 50%.

    Another fan of your hellebores. I have mostly plain green-tinged white seedlings and as in your garden seedlings are vigorous and sturdy compared to the fancier selections.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      That’s good news on the snow pack. And the rain. Hopefully it is enough to avoid a crisis this summer, albeit there are still many dry days to come.

  18. Freda March 15, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply


    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      Under snow again now 🙁

  19. Heyjude March 15, 2018 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    Love your Helleborus ‘Harvington Double Pink’. I am going to have to get one of those. I’m not looking forward to the next promise of freezing temperatures. I suspect more plants will be lost including those trying to make buds after the last lot were destroyed. My one and only camellia is still inside the unheated conservatory and blooming marvellously, but I too have some yellow leaves. To water or not is the question.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      I’m worried about the new buds too, they have progressed considerably in the milder temperatures of the last week so there is plenty of tender young growth out there. But plants which sprout this early must be used to knock backs.. I hope!

  20. bittster March 16, 2018 at 12:54 am - Reply

    The flowers look great but the sunshine even better! Glad to see that spring is making a better effort over there and I hope we have our turn soon as well.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Not yet Frank. We have ‘Beast from the East Part 2’, snow and plunging temperatures, this weekend. Hopefully though it will be short and sweet. It better be. There is work to be done.

  21. Linda from Each Little World March 16, 2018 at 2:27 am - Reply

    A beautiful collection of Hellebores. It seems that whatever you learn one year is not needed in the garden the following season. We’re always playing catchup.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Every year is different. But there is nothing like a bit of variety to keep us on our toes.

  22. derrickjknight March 16, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Quite stunning photography – as usual

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derrick.

  23. Linda March 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica…
    I always marvel at your beautiful blooms…your climate is astounding to me.
    So many different Hellebores…I was at my local Flower store yesterday with my granddaughter, and they had gorgeous Hellebores potted up for sale…my problem…what to do with them, until planting time! Had to pass them by…$20!
    Oh well…I will just enjoy yours…
    Happy St Paddy’s to you 🍀
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      March is a particularly unpredictable month and whereas last week we had some sunshine now we’re back to snow! The hellebores do look pretty with their dusting though and hopefully they’ll bounce back from tonight’s likely freeze. Brrrr.

  24. smallsunnygarden March 16, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    I need your courage with the clippers! My autumn-pruned Leucophyllum sulked for four months straight, but the nearby plants were starved for sunlight – even here – so it had to be done! But it doesn’t encourage me to get robust at hacking back the next few that need hacking!
    It must be lovely to be able to watch your Hellebores grow and seed themselves around! They are such beauties…

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      I have had some go like that. And a rather leggy rhododendron that I hacked almost to the ground last year doesn’t look like it has survived. We will have to winch out the carcass this year. But it will give me a lovely new space for planting in an area where I need something light and airy, not an ugly slab of green.

  25. aberdeen gardening March 16, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Those Hellebores are gorgeous. Having a small garden I decided to give them the go by, not a good decision, I will find room.

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      They are worth the space because as well as the lovely early blooms, which can last for weeks, they put out a new flush of lush, architectural leaves in Spring. They work well as a foil for summer flowering plants.

  26. Diana Studer March 16, 2018 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Good idea, brutal pruning, but only one bush at a time. Can I bear to do that?

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      More than one at a time, just not the whole lot in one go!
      I was delighted to read in the news this week that your water situation has eased a little bit. It must be quite a relief.

  27. Cathy March 17, 2018 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Interesting to read your comments about hybrid/selfsown hellebores – we certainly have to be patient waiting for the named ones to bulk up, although i have noticed that those of mine in the snowdrop border have bulked up more quickly than those in the woodland edge border

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      It’s said that hellebores don’t mind heavy clay soil but I am sceptical. Perhaps it is the cold, wet clay soil here that they object to. I’ve started them in some of my shadier borders where the soil has been more actively cultivated to see if that helps. But they do take a while to settle in generally. Sleep, creep, leap..

  28. Brian Skeys March 17, 2018 at 9:01 am - Reply

    I have Mahonia aquifolium in the garden, I planted it after reading Rosemary Verey recommended it for winter interest. You are in good company Jessica!

    • Jessica March 17, 2018 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      I certainly am Brian. There are quite a few clumps of it here now but I have discovered it’s a right pain to dig up when the time comes to divide it!

  29. Chloris March 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Stunning photos and gorgeous hellebores. It is wonderful to have some special ones but I welcome the self seeded ones too because they make such generous carpets. Your moraea is intriguing, such a fabulous colour.

    • Jessica March 18, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      That moraea really stands out, even though it is not a large bloom. The colour is wonderful.

  30. denisebydesignsgooglemailcom March 18, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Snow here again today. Supplies are sorted so I dont mind being cabined up! We were stuck for 3 days when a milk lorry got stuck! Archers all over!

    • Jessica March 18, 2018 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Up there in the north you know what you’re doing with snow. Apart from the milk lorry!

  31. Carol Juniper March 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Yep we’ve got snow here again in Cornwall just as everything was recovering from the last lot! Those hellebores look glorious – I don’t think you can overprune viburnum it has survived being cut to almost ground level here.

    • Jessica March 18, 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Carol and welcome.
      Thanks for the advice on the viburnum. I’m very tempted. There are certainly a few woody old stems that will be coming right out.

  32. CherryPie March 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    We could do with some of that sunshine today. The snow is back!

    • Jessica March 18, 2018 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Yes, here too. Possibly even more than last time. It’s been pretty but outstayed its welcome now.

  33. catmint March 21, 2018 at 4:09 am - Reply

    looking at those closeup photos of plants is so-o-o enjoyable and satisfying. That Morea is to die for – well, metaphorically … I find after a few years all my Hellebores that started different and special all morph together as muddy brown. But I still like them, even they’re hard to photograph because they’re looking down.

    • Jessica March 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      The Moraea might work for you in Melbourne, I would think a lot closer to South Africa in climate than we are. An advantage of gardening on a steep hill, one of the few, is that there is always something at eye level or higher. This is where I put the hellebores!

  34. Jenni Dennis March 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    It’s O-Dark-30 right now and I’m having a moment of peace and quiet (a rare treat these days). Steam cup of coffee on the right and a puppy dog snuggled up hard against the left. Sunrise is breaking and I’m doing the thing that has been on my mind for a few days now….visiting your blog. Jessica, I enjoy reading you blog very much. Props too for your love of hellebores 😉 It’s a fine plant to lust. The varieties you have are quite stunning. I have not let my seedlings prosper as of yet. I do not have quite the abundance of room, but it makes sense to me that they would thrive as you’ve described. ‘Harvington Double Pink’ could pass for a peony’s bloom. Gorgeous. Happy Spring. I hope it’s making it’s way to you. I watched the Rugby Six Nations England vs Ireland match awhile back and was surprised to see snowfall at the stadium so late in the season! Cheers!

    • Jessica March 28, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenni. The forecasters were even threatening snow this weekend although hopefully not this far south. It’s worrying to see all the tender young shoots of Spring appearing and knowing that we are far from being out of the woods just yet. I cut back the withered stems on an agapanthus this afternoon and then hastily covered the emerging leaves with a cloche, just in case! Hellebores are a firm favourite. What’s not to love about a flower that looks so exotic and yet blooms so early in the season?

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