How amazing it is to be enjoying the blooms of February and March so early! It sounds rather churlish to complain, but I feel rather cheated of the anticipation which is part of the fun of winter flowers. My father was even worse than me, he used to walk round the garden every day, gleefully watching the progress of the plump noses of his daffodils and tulip bulbs. Once they came out, he lost interest in them. I’m not as bad as that, but one of the January pleasures is usually watching and waiting for the exciting day when the first hellebores unfurl and the daffodils get nice fat buds. This year, they did it in a rush, behind my back, whilst I was busy with Christmas. That’s cheating.
There are hosts of hellebores, I haven’t even got round to cutting all their leaves off yet.
As usual, it is the pale ones that are out, the darker colours are always later.
Snowdrops are opening up early, but Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’ is always a nice reliable one that opens in the new year.
Cyclamen coum has been in bloom for ages and the pheasant has pulled quite a few of the flowers off. He missed this clump.
The little buttons of winter aconites, Eranthis hyemalis popped up whilst I wasn’t watching and now they are spreading out in a sea of yellow. They obligingly seed themselves about into ever growing pools under the Acer drummondii.
I have one called ‘Orange Glow’ which is a richer colour, I hope it will spread just as well.
There are plenty of primroses out, I love this lilac coloured double one.
The rare and beautiful little Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ is still blooming away and has been out for several weeks now. Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ is also in bloom but I forgot to photograph it. This one is always in bloom very early.
Winter is the time to enjoy fragrant shrubs and they are all pumping out their perfume much earlier than usual. My favourite is the peerless Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’. If I could only have one shrub in the garden, this would be the one. I have it by the front door and it stops people in their tracks, with it’s amazing perfume. It is sweet, fruity and absolutely delicious.
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ smells just as delicious but it is not nearly as floriferous and it does not grow as tall. Pretty as it is, it just can’t compete with Jacqueline.
I adore the scent of Chimonanthus and I have three of them. I admit it is rather boring for most of the year, but the flowers smell gorgeous; sweet and spicy. I have read that some people think the flowers are drab, but I don’t agree. They are shiny yellow claws with a maroon centre. Quite adorable.
I have read blogs where people said they bought Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’ for their perfume and then they were disappointed that it is so faint. These two have finished flowering now, but the amazingly sweet Mahonia japonica is in bloom. It is the one to get for scent, it smells strongly of Lily of the valley.
Winter flowering honeysuckle has been flowering for ages. It is wonderful. I grow Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ because it is always covered in deliciously scented flowers and it is more compact than the straggly Lonicera fragrantissima.
I have another delightful winter flowering honeysuckle which is quite rare but worth looking out for. It has tubular shaped fragrant flowers of the palest pink. If you look at them closely you can see that they are hairy. It is called Lonicera elisae.
Witch hazels are one of the joys of winter. Some of mine are already in bloom, others are still to come.
I have mentioned my Coronilla valentina glauca before. It blooms on and on and is very sweetly scented. I grow it in a pot so that I can whip it into the greenhouse if the winter gets too harsh.
I love skimmias and have quite a few different ones. Soon those little buds will open into clusters of fragrant flowers.This is a new one that has the most amazing berries of all of them. It is called Skimmia japonica ‘Temptation’. It’s well named. I bought it for my son and then felt I really needed one myself. Just look at those berries.
Several years ago we had a really severe frost and my Garrya elliptica looked quite dead. I chopped it down quite a long way to get rid of all the unsightly dead branches amd now it is looking good again. This one with really long tassels is Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’
The dainty flowers of Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis rosea’ are usually in bloom at this time of the year as long as there are no hard frosts. The flowers are incredibly long lasting.
My favourite winter flowering Prunus is the Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’. The flowers are dark pink and almond scented. It is a glorious little tree which usually blooms in late February. Not this year though. The name is Japanese for ‘Flight of the Red Plovers’. This tree needs a sheltered position. In the past I have found it suffered from sudden death rather like Daphnes do. This one is 4 years old and doing very well.
The tall Summer Snowflake; Leucojum aestivum is in full bloom, but I remember it bloomed early last year too.
All these plants are early this year, but I have two really crazily confused June-blooming plants which are flowering away. One is the lovely silver leaved Convolvulus cneorum.
The other is the lovely June- flowering shrub with pure white flowers; Exochorda x macrantha ‘The bride’
What a crazy season. I hope you are enjoying your confused blooms too. My thoughts are very much with those of you in the north of England who are suffering from these terrifying floods.
A very Happy New Year to everyone, I am looking forward to catching up with all of you and to following your garden adventures this coming year. xxx