Six on Saturday – 24/2/19

Yes I know its Sunday, I seem incapable of remembering to do this meme on a Saturday. I don’t think Saturday has been a usual blogging day for me in the past so maybe that’s the problem.  Anyway, here I am a day late, again, but at least I can now share something other than hellebores and snowdrops.

This is how the garden looked at 9:30 am today and it didn’t really lift until well past 11:00.  But it need give me the opportunity to take some more interesting photos of the first narcissus flowering in the garden, if you don’t count Narcissus ‘February Gold’ which has been flowering for a couple of weeks now.

I think this is Narcissus ‘W P Milner’.  Its a miniature narcissus, similar in stature to Narcissus ‘Tete -a -Tete’. I have a habit of buying random narcissus bulbs each Autumn and then forgetting what I have bought from one year to the next.  I have a preference towards the paler yellows and whites and the smaller flowers.

I have no idea of the name of this narcissus, I have had it for a few years now, but I do like the paler yellow petals to the trumpet. I took the photos when the mist was still hanging and tried to capture the moisture on the petals.  I’ve been playing with the manual settings on my camera, trying to learn how to use the features better rather than relying on auto and macros.  For a first go outside I am quite pleased with these photos.

This narcissus was a surprise, it appeared unexpectedly and I suspect is a survivor from the alpine bulbs I grew a few years ago, well tried to grow, in pots.  I got fed up with them two years ago and decided that I didn’t have time to manage so many bulbs in pots and that I actually preferred the plants growing in the ground.  So the pots were unceremoniously emptied out into the borders and I keep coming across surprises.

My last six for Saturday is a photo of the Crocus tommasinianus that is slowly spreading itself in the border.  The crocuses are the best they have ever been this year and it was interesting to hear, at the HPS group I go to, that other gardeners have experienced the same.  The theory was that the heat last year gave the bulbs a good baking allowing them to produce better flowers, which makes sense when you think they come from Turkey.  As you can see the sun eventually came out today and bleached out the colour in my photo.

For more Six on Saturday, visit The Propagator’s blog

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Feb 2019

My selection of blooms for February include a lot of flowers that were flowering last month.  It seems to me that spring flowers last longer than those in the summer.  I wonder if it is something to do with the temperatures or whether they flower longer to give them more chance of being pollinated by the pollinators which are scarcer than in the summer.






A couple of clamps of Eranthis which are slowly clumping up.  I did have Eranthis schwefelglanz which is a pale Eranthis but I haven’t spotted it so far which is disappointing.

Narcissus ‘February Gold’

My first daffodils or narcissus are flowering – Narcissus ‘February Gold’. I planted these bulbs back in the Autumn in a new area where the compost bins were previously.  The flowers are more delicate than I anticipated and I am really pleased with how they look, I will definitely be adding more next year.

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

Probably the last bloom on the Iris ungicularis looking a little chewed but still providing a welcome splash of colour at this time of year.

One of the many clumps of snowdrops around the garden.  I am really pleased with how big the clumps are now; I will probably do a little splitting of clumps in a month or so once the flowers have finished.

Galanthus ‘Wendys Gold’

One of my more specialist snowdrops – Galanthus ‘Wendys Gold’ – different because of the gold ovaries and markings on the inner petals.

And a selection of my favourite hellebores

A hellebore seedling

Hellebore Anna’s Red 

So these are the floral highlights from my garden.

For more garden bloggers blooms check out May Dream Gardens, where Carol kindly hosts this meme.



Snowdrop Peeping

I had a jolly day out this Sunday with my friend Victoria.  We indulged in a day of what we call ‘snowdrop peeping’, visiting three very different gardens known for their snowdrops.  The first garden was a private, very personal garden, open to invited friends for a coffee morning so I have decided not to include any photos of it.  The second garden had a range of snowdrops, stunning views, and was interesting even though it was a cool February day.  However, the snowdrops were mainly specialist snowdrops, interesting to this gardener, but photos of small clumps of snowdrops don’t make that interesting viewing so I have decided to share with you just the photos of the last garden – Colesbourne.

Colesbourne is a mecca for galanthophiles (snowdrop obsessives) as well as those who enjoy an excuse to get out early in Spring for some fresh air and to walk in a beautiful setting.  As you can see the snowdrops at Colesbourne grow in great swathes and I was reminded that when I visited a few years back for a talk by Sir Henry Elwes  that every year they dig up, divide and replant the snowdrops to aid them spreading.

Colesbourne is a private estate with a fairly formal garden near the house but also an arboretum (open at other times of the year) and a beautiful lake which was created in 1922 to power hydro-electric power for the house.  I didn’t see the lake last time I visited and was as equally transfixed by it as I was the snowdrops.  You will see that even in the winter the water has a strong blue colour and it is believed that this is a result of the colloidal clay in the water.

As the house and gardens are situated on the side of a hill the plantings benefit from the slopes which allow the visitor to see the flowers more closely rather than resorting to their hands and knees as I have to in my garden.  The below photo doesn’t quite capture the light but when we visited there was a wonderful contrast between the darkness of the yew against the sunlit snowdrop covered slope. In the formal garden are the more specialist and rare snowdrops in tiny groups all neatly labelled.  We amused ourselves by playing spot the difference and concluded that whilst we did now appreciate that there were differences we need those differences to be really obvious to us – height, flower size, obvious markings etc.

As with all good snowdrop displays the planting isn’t all snowdrops.  At Colesbourne as you get nearer the house the snowdrops are accompanied by Cyclamen coum and Crocus tommasinianus .  I think they provide a great contrast to the snowdrops and make them sparkle more. 

Colesbourne, like many Victorian country houses, has an interesting selection of intriguing outbuildings;  this one is, I think, an old ice house.  The moss and lichen on the roof was a delight.

And just for my galanthophile friends I did buy some named snowdrops – three small pots of Galanthus S Arnott which is scented and I want to start to create a small swathe of snowdrops in part of the garden where I don’t have any snowdrops.  I also bought Galanthus Ophelia which is a double and apparently a reliable snowdrop for establishing.  Galanthus woronowii a species, which bright green broad leaves, was acquired from one of the other gardens and will be a great addition to my collection which is around 20 varieties now.

I feel like I have now fully embraced the snowdrop session and I am now ready for the next instalment of Spring – Daffodils and Narcissus.

Six for Saturday 9th February 2019

Not a lot of gardening has happened today; the wind and cold were not really conducive to pottering. Despite the skies being heavy with wintering clouds, there were moments when the clouds cleared and the sun shone through making the Anemanthele lessoniana glisten.

The Phormium, growing in the same border as the grass, is one of those plants that I am in two minds about.  At this time of year I love it especially when it is back-lit by sunshine but come the summer it doesn’t work very well with the perennials I have in the border but then again I am thinking about reducing the amount of asters in the border so we shall see.  

Another plant that comes into its own at this time of year is the Arum italicum which provides  a lovely backdrop to the early spring bulbs; this particular plant grows as a pretty skirt under the camellia below which looks like it might flower any day now.

Finishing on the foliage theme I thought I would share a photo of one of my Aeoniums which are thriving in the greenhouse.  The mild winter has led to unusually high temperatures in the greenhouse which has meant the plants have continued to grow rather than going dormant as they normally do at this time of year. 

For more Six for Saturday posts check out The Propagator’s blog whose great idea this meme was.

Cleaning Bamboo

Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘spectabilis’

It is always good to have your approach or views challenged and sometimes those challenges creep up on you unexpectedly. This weekend, having been encouraged out into the garden to take some photos for my Six on Saturday post I found myself pottering around for an hour accompanied by the under-gardener.

One of the jobs I wanted to tackle was trimming the stems of the Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ or what I call the Zig-Zag bamboo. It’s a practice I adopted a couple of years back so that the wonderful golden zig-zag stems of the bamboo are showcased.  It’s a fiddly job and best done in the winter as the new shoots start to appear along the stems; if you catch the new shoots early enough you can reduce the amount of knobbly bits and have cleaner stems.  I have to admit it’s quite a satisfying job and ideal for a cold day when the ground is too cold for digging or planting.  After a bit of work you can clearly see a result for your work.

I also remove the leaves from hellebores  and cut back epimediums (not the Japanese ones) in January in order to allow the flowers to show.  Of course in nature this doesn’t happen and it is purely a human intervention in order to show off a plant.  Interestingly, I was surprised some time ago to discover that some gardeners remove the flowers from hostas as they grow the hostas for the leaves and they felt the flowers compromised the effect and I have always smiled at those who pressure wash the stems of birch in the winter to show off the white bark. So there is no consistently in my approach.

While I was snipping away at the bamboo stems and admiring the sea of honesty foliage growing around the bamboo I started to wonder where the idea of removing the shoots had come from and given how much tidying up I had to do in the garden why was I spending time undertaking a purely cosmetic task.  My questioning continued when one of the commentators on my last post described the joy of hellebores with the flowers hidden amongst the leaves and this really got me thinking.

I suppose it comes down to what effect you want to achieve in your garden and what is more important to you.  Do you grow the plants to focus on one particular element: flowers, stems, bark, leaves? Or do you grow the plants to create an overall impact? Or, like me, do you have a more random approach picking out those plants which are maybe more important to you or actually those you can see best from the living room window!

Six for Saturday – 3/2/2019

I’ve started re-engaging with blogs again and I came across a meme hosted by The Propagator; called Six for Saturday.  The premise is simply  just to post six photos relating to your garden in some way on a Saturday and link back to The Propagator. One of the reasons I didn’t blog much last year was because I was finding it difficult to find anything new to say; I think I was just burnt out. However, with a new year I am feeling much more engaged with the garden and starting to blog more and I think this will be a useful prompt.   So here goes with my first Six for Saturday post.

1. Hellebores are a real feature in my garden in January/February.   I have added a few each year, mainly from Ashwoods.   The dark purple hellebore is one of the first ones I bought and it grows along the top of the wall where I can see it from the living room window. Being on top of the wall means the drooping flowerheads are at just the right level for me to see inside the flower and take a photograph. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten about this in recent years which means that the newer hellebores are harder to photograph unless I lie down on the ground to see up into the flowers.

2 – Snowdrops are as prolific in the garden as hellebores.  I started with some ordinary Galanthus nivalis probably about 10 years ago and they have slowly spread around the garden.  Through my encounters with various plants people and groups I have found myself drawn into the irrational world of collecting snowdrops.  I probably have nearly 20 special named snowdrops in the garden now.  Sadly, the labels have disappeared, probably thanks to the local bird population.  I am determined to draw up a plan with those I can name marked on and replace the labels.

3 – Iris – I have a weakness for all sort of Iris. Iris reticulata have always challenged me.  I can get them to flower in pots in the first year and sometimes a second year.  But I seem incapable of getting them to grow in the border, aside from this one tiny group of Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’ which has appeared for the last couple of years and are very slowly bulking up. Any tips would be appreciated.

4. Sunshine – after days of grey wintery skies it was a delight to see the sun today

5 Snow – but despite the sun in some parts of the garden the snow has remained since Friday which I suppose just shows the garden still has some shade despite my neighbours both clearing the trees and shrubs along their fence lines.

To find more Six for Saturday posts follow this link and look in the comment box




End of Month View – February 2018

I was going to say I shall be glad to see the back of February and hopefully the cold weather but it appears that it will be staying with us a little longer and I have the prospect of snow on my birthday.

As you would expect the garden hasn’t changed significantly over the last month due to the season but I have done quite a bit of tidying up; mainly of leaves and weeds with a little bit of pruning thrown in for fun. You can just about make out my stripped bamboo canes at the back of the garden in the above picture.

I haven’t got to the point of being able to cut the grass yet despite it shaggy appearance as its either been too wet or too cold – for the gardener not for grass cutting, but the edges have been tidied a couple of times.

This border is on my ‘to tackle’ list this year although I have to admit its a bit down the list mainly as I struggle with it but there is a germ of an idea of how to bring it together at the back of my mind which needs to be explored.  Another area is the area you can see in the background of this picture where the compost bins are.  Now I get rid of my garden rubbish through the green waste collection service I want to get rid of the compost bins and plant up this area with shrubs and woodland loving plants.

However, before I do that I need to tackle the area at the top of the garden.  In the photo above you can just about make out the top path in front of the bamboos and this is going.  Well it has almost gone now as this weekend we removed the timber which edges the bottom edge of the path and holds up the back border.  We put them in about 9 years ago and they are basically scaffolding boards which unsurprisingly have rotten over the years.  I have tried various approaches to this space but they just haven’t worked as I have never been able to visualise it in my mind properly.  However , interestingly as we removed the wood supports the penny clicked and I can now see how to plant up the areas with hardy exotics – something I have wanted to incorporate into the garden for some time. I just had to remove the visual constraints of the wood to free up my imagination.

So that is my garden at the end of February.  I hope that by the end of next month the weather will have warmed up and the narcissus will be flowering and bringing more colour to the photos

Everyone is welcome to join in the End of Month meme.  All I ask is that you link to this post or blog in your post and that you leave a comment in the comment box so we can find each other.

I look forward to seeing your gardens wherever they are in the world.



I have been posting photos of the snowdrops in my garden since Boxing Day but now is the time when the majority of the snowdrops are flowering especially the Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus nivalis ‘Flora Plenowhich are slowly but surely spreading through the borders.

Many of my special snowdrops have gone over but there is now a second wave coming through which I haven’t always appreciated due to them being amongst the Galanthus nivalis.  This one is Galanthus ‘James Backhouse’ which I think has a nice elegant slender flower.

For those who question if there is any difference between snowdrops, this is Galanthus nivalis ‘Flora Pleno’.  A gift from my friend Victoria from her garden.  It isn’t that unusual, and is definitely established in the Big Border, but it is rather gorgeous.

Amongst the Galanthus nivalis ‘Flora Pleno’ is this clump which is taller and more elegant.  It may well be a standard Galanthus nivalis – I have no idea and I don’t remember planting anything particularly special in this spot.

 Now even the most cynical of the galanthophobia cannot fail to see how this snowdrop is different. This is Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’ the gold reflecting the yellow markings.

This snowdrop is a real mystery.  It was given to me by a friend of a friend, who also gave me Wendy’s Gold,  who couldn’t remember its name but told me it was a big snowdrop.  I assumed he meant tall but it is now clear that the ‘big’ refers to the size of the flowers which are huge compared to my other snowdrop flowers.

If any one knows, or has a clue, what this snowdrop might be I would love to know.

So those are some of my snowdrops, I hope you enjoyed them. Next will be the narcissus.