Unseasonably spring-like

Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) 'Anna's Red'

Weeding in the garden today, listening to a big fat bee buzzing around the Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’, and feeling the sun on my back you could be forgiven for thinking it was Spring.  This assumption was reinforced by the flowering of snowdrops, hellebores and primulas with even the Daphne putting in a show. However it is mid December with the shortest day just two days away.  This winter has been incredibly mild so much so that it is hard to believe we will be recovering from the over indulgences of Christmas in just 5 days.

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After weekend after weekend of rain it was with pure delight that I was out cutting back hellebore leaves first thing this morning, making the most of the blue skies in case they were going to be short-lived but I needn’t have worried as the fine weather lasted longer than my energy levels or my back muscles.

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I don’t ascribe to the ‘slow gardening’ approach at this time of year which advocates leaving all the tidying up until the spring.  I think it is fine if you have a garden that is grasses and late summer perennials but with a garden like mine that I like to look as good as possible all year and which is planted in the layer style it is important to keep on top of things.  I’m not talking about putting the garden to bed for the winter – what a waste of a quarter of the year and so many delights.  Instead I love to potter and tidy and consider.  With the amount of rain we have had this month I am glad I take this approach as lifting the sodden thick layers of sycamore leaves revealed the hellebore flower buds above which were struggling to push their way through just as some of the bulbs were, you can see how little light has got to them.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’

Back on the 5th December I shared my surprise at discovering a snowdrop about to open.  Finally this weekend I have had the privilege of seeing the flowers fully open and this has helped me confirm that its identify is Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’, a very elegant flower with long outer petals and a nice nodding head.

Galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’

The main borders have been tidied and cleared of leaves and decaying stems cut back. I still have the very back borders to do and I have a scheme around the compost bins that I am hoping I might get a chance to carry out before I return to work on the 4th January, which does seem a very long way away being next year!  Though no doubt having seen the forecast I will spend more time day dreaming over seed catalogues and making plans for gardens to visit this year.


Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

15 thoughts on “Unseasonably spring-like”

  1. Our blue skies were interspersed with torrential showers today. So much for my good intentions. But it does look spring like with the hellebores and snowdrops pushing up already. In fact in some places more like April, awash with primroses!

    1. Hi Jessica
      I have had primroses flowering for weeks as well but to be honest that’s not that unusual

  2. We are back to our normal Dec. temperatures which should stop my early bulbs from making an appearance. Mrs. Macnamara is a beauty.

  3. Love the dark hellebore! Pohutukawas flowering everywhere. They come out at different times so longer flowering time “NZ Christmas Tree” in the North of the North Island and coastal. All those fine brush like petals with their tips of gold on knarly old trees. Many new ones planted and a variousness in the reds, some a dark browny red, real scarlet and different ones between. Leaves not so good for composting as dry and leathery to withstand the coastal storms. Pool finally warming up to 25 degrees celcius so lovely to swim in. Just need to get my lengths up! Ridiculous snowy Christmas songs here – that’s the last thing we want. Christmas here is sun, heat, strawberries, salades, ham, pavlova and stone fruit and berries!! More casual and a lot of families are camping at the beach. Happy Christmas! x

  4. I find if I leave cutting back until spring then I start the new season all behind. It’s a nice job to do in the garden this time of year.

  5. Most of the time I do prefer a tidy garden, but when things turn black or mushy I take it as my signal that it’s time to take a break. I need the month of December to ignore the garden. Once January comes, then I start my tidying, as plants often start to break ground or leaf out as early as February here.

    1. Hi Bloominboutiful
      Snowdrops come for turkey, Greece etc so they need good drainage and a cold winter but here in the Uk they do well in woodlands and shady areas where they often get a dry summer. Not sure where you are but I know they struggle with snowdrops in some parts of US due to temperatures

    2. Hi
      Well there you go! So all you need is a bit of garden space which won’t be disturbed during the year. I plant mine where primroses grow. They do quite well around deciduous shrubs

  6. Snap! We were engaged in the very same activity yesterday afternoon Helen – removing the old hellebore foliage and disposing of sycamore leaves. I don’t usually remove the hellebore foliage until after Christmas but the flowers are so much ahead of themselves. I’m glad that I did it yesterday as it poured down today. I had time this afternoon to flip through the new edition of ‘The Garden’ which contains an article on ferns which I’m sure that you will find interesting.

    1. Hi Anna
      I spotted the article on ferns, haven’t read it yet but am sure it will be good as written by Martin Rickards who is Mr Ferns and so generous with his time for people like me who know nothing but want to know more

  7. Lovely dark hellebore and that yellow one looks an intriguingly strong yellow colour. Glad you worked out what your snowdrop was – my Mrs Mac finally opened yesterday.

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