Ten Top Blooms for February.

I promised a look in the greenhouse for my next post but this will have to be postponed because this is not the sort of weather for lurking inside, outside wonderful things are happening. Incredible to think that last year at this time we were cowering from the Beast from the East. This year the thermal undies have been cast off and coats too and we are revelling in spring- like weather.  Yesterday, we had lunch outside and I saw my first yellow Brimstone butterfly. Even more exciting, I recently saw two mad March hares having a boxing match. I used to think this was two males fighting over the ladies, but I have checked and it is actually the lady hare, sorry doe, fighting off the over- ardent advances of the male. I wish I had had my camera handy.

But back to the garden which is alive with buzzing bees and courting birds. I hope your February garden is delighting you, but if it is not very colourful, here are some ideas to fill the winter garden with beauty. My favourite February bloom is no secret, but I think I have spoken about it enough this year, probably too much for some people,  so I will not mention the S word here, let’s take number one as read. On the other hand, perhaps I can be forgiven a very quick look at the rather odd Galanthus ‘Blewbury Tart’, and with that we will move quickly on.

Galanthus ‘Blewbury tart’

Let’s have a look at another little white charmer, Leucojum vernum, sometimes called Spring Snowflake, though not by me, as I am a stickler for using Latin so that we are all on the same page. Anyway it looks nothing like a snowflake. It looks more like a little lampshade or a pixie hat if one is a little whimsical. It is absolutely delightful and the only reason that snowdrop addicts aren’t going crazy about it is because they are all the same and it is the little variations that we all go mad for.

Leucojum vernum

But you can get one a little different where the tips of the petals are yellow instead of green. It is called Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum, sadly it has vanished from my garden, I suspect it fell victim to Narcissus fly. The female flies like to lay there eggs in the sun so these little beauties are best in the shade. They don’t spread very quickly so carpets are not easy to achieve. Leucojum vernum var. vagneri also has yellow tipped flowers and it has two flowers on each scape. It is taller than the other Leucojum vernum .

Leucojum wagneri

Actually I have just been out to look at my Leucojum vernum and I have found one clump with no coloured tips to the petals so they are not all the same.

Leucojum vernum

The Summer Snowflake, Leucojum aestivum also starts blooming now. It is not as attractive because the flowers are quite small  and not such a pretty rounded shape and they have long stalks,  but still it does seed about merrily and it is quite handy for a vase.

Leucojum aestivum

I have problems with crocuses, something eats the corms as fast as I plant them. I thought it was mice until I caught a squirrel in the act of eating the tulip bulbs I have in pots the other day. He waited until they had nice plump buds. But the mice are not without sin they ate all the crocuses in the greenhouse apart from the one I covered with a pane if glass. But I have carpets of sweet little Tommies, Crocus tommasinianus which seed everywhere and they are never touched. So I can’t complain. I am not very keen on the big fat, shiny Dutch crocuses  anyway, but the delicate species crocuses are delightful and the pests that pounce on newly planted corms ignore these carpets. They come in a range of colours  from the palest lilac to deep purple.

Crocus tommasianianus

I also have a few clumps of Crocus ”Cream Beauty’ and the bees have clearly visited these before they landed on the lilac Tommies and some of the children are beautiful.

Crocus ‘Cream Beauty’

As well as crocuses there are little pools of jewel -like colour provided by small irises. I grow some in pots in the greenhouse so that I can enjoy them even earlier. In the garden some of the Iris reticulata don’t last very well, these are usually the ones with narrow petals. The chunkier Iris histrioides hybrids keep going longer and spread too. Good spreaders in my garden are the reliable Iris ”Harmony’.

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

The lovely sky blue ‘Sheila Anne Germaney’ has yellow markings and clumps up well.

Iris ‘Sheila Ann Germaney’

Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrice Stanley’  is another favourite which just gets better each year.

Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrice Stanley’

When I finally take you into my February greenhouse I will show you some more of these adorable little irises.

My first daffodils appeared in early February. The very first is Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ which sometimes blooms as early as January.

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

Another early one is Narcisssus ‘Spring Dawn’. It is delightful with a creamy white perianth surrounding a frilly yellow trumpet. You can see the bees like it as much as I do.

Narcissus ‘Spring Dawn’

I have a few early scillas blooming in jewel like colours too. The first in bloom is the periwinkle blue Scilla ‘Spring Beauty’, soon I hope there will be carpets of tit.

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’

And then there is the scilla with the ridiculously unpronouncable name. It looks just like a Puschkinia but it’s not.

Scilla mischtschenkoana ‘Tubergeniana’

There will be more lovely scillas next month.

Hellebores have been delighting me for weeks now. I am lucky that a previous owner loved them and planted them everywhere and they have seeded about so I have lots.

I have introduced some special ones too. There are ever more  gorgeous hybrids but I am still fond of a very old variety which I brought from my old garden. It has huge pure white flowers with star shaped wavy petals. It is called ‘Petsamo’.

Helleborus ‘Petsamo’

Some of the new doubles are dreamy.

I also love the anemone flowered ones.

Oh, I love them all and one of the joys of February is turning up their faces to look at them.

The winter flowering honeysuckle has been in bloom for weeks and gets better and better.

Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’

But now my rarer Lonicera elisae is in bloom at last. It gets going later but it is worth the wait.

Lonicera ‘elisae’

Close up the flowers are tinged with pink and hairy.

Lonicera elisae

I have been enjoying Witch Hazels for weeks now and the reds and oranges are over but the yellows are looking good.

My favourite yellow is ‘Arnold’s Promise’, it  is the last Witch Hazel to bloom. It makes a nice vase shaped shrub and is full of spidery flowers.

Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’

I will finish with my two beautiful Japanese Apricots. The first has deep pink single flowers and has been in bloom for the whole of February. It is called Prunus mume ‘Beni- chidori’ which is Japanese for ‘The Flight of the Red Plovers’. A blossom tree in February is very special.

Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’

The second one Prunus mume ‘Omoi-no-mama’ has semi-double white flowers and it seems rather rare. I first saw it years ago at Cambridge Botanical gardens and have searched for it since. Last year I finally tracked it down. It had an unfortunate encounter with The Pianist mowing the lawn rather over-enthusiastically, but it seems to have survived and I have widened the border so I hope it will be safe in future. You never know though, the dear Pianist seems to mow the grass with his eyes closed.

Prunus mume ‘Omoi-no-mama’

So there we have it, the glorious blooms that are lifting my spirits this February, I hope you enjoyed them. Please join in and show your favourite February blooms. And I promise the greenhouse will make an appearance very soon.


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46 Responses to Ten Top Blooms for February.

  1. Kris P says:

    Considering the fact that your winters are generally harsher than my own, I’m astounded by the range of blooms in your garden, Chloris. Other than my small-cupped Narcissus, none of my daffodils have shown their faces yet and, while the Freesias are bursting forth, the Sparaxis and other bulbs seem to be taking their sweet time about showing up as well. I’ve finally got a couple of hellebores to bloom reliably but they too lag behind yours. There aren’t many new blooms to share since my mid-month Bloom Day post so, unless something exciting happens within the next few days (e.g. Ferraria crispa makes an appearance!), I won’t do a separate 10 top blooms post this month. I look forward to seeing what you have going on in your greenhouse.

    • Chloris says:

      These daffodils are always early Kris and I have another one which I forgot to mention called February Gold. It is strange that your hellebores lag behind ours when you have so many summer flowers in bloom.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What a beautiful post with all your favourites,Chloris. I liked them all, but to me, the best photo is the one with the crocuses carpeted under the tree. It’s so lovely with the sun highlighting the flowers. Watching a garden waking up in spring has got to be just about the greatest pleasure a gardener can experience!

  3. What a wonderful variety of blooms! It’s interesting about crocuses and the tommies being left alone – those are the ones which seed themselves most readily too. I love ‘Cream Beauty’ – such a perfect little crocus. Your hellebore collection is stunning. I love the ones with the little frill. Prunis meme ‘Beni chidori’ has long been on my coveted tree list. It is lovely to enjoy what you have in your garden. And lovely to read your wealth of experience around each plant. Thank you Chloris.

    • Chloris says:

      I think the little Tommies are left alone because they are are deep in the soil. The pests seem to be able to sniff out freshly planted corms. I haven’t forgotten I promised you some hellebore seedlings Ali, sorry for the delay I have had a busy week. I will post them next week.

  4. Goodness Chloris your selection is like looking through a catalogue, so many beautiful blooms. The garden really must be a sight to behold. I especially love your white Japanese quince blossom but really a splendid selection.

  5. homeslip says:

    Gorgeous inspiration, thank you Chloris. I have a west-facing border close to the house which I plan to make into a winter garden. When we arrived it contained five dwarfing ceanothus. I dug one out (took me about two hours, ached for two days!) so when the guys were putting in a field gate so we could get a tractor into the meadow I got the digger to do the hard work – four minutes and they were all gone. Last summer I filled the space temporarily with V. Bonariensis, A. Mollis, Scabious, White foxglove and herbs that needed to be released from pots, so this spring I have a blank canvas. So far I have bought sarcoccca and Daphne Perfume Princess (terrible name) from Nymans, a friend is letting me choose some hellebores from her garden and I guess I will let the rest evolve. I plonked three molinia in last September and their violet inflorescences looked lovely catching the low sunlight through the autumn so I think I will let them be and I guess the white foxglove at the far end wouldn’t be out of place as this border segues into a beech hedge which I am slowly underplanting with white C. Hederifolium. I’ve just remembered I have pots of divided pink astilbe (some for my hellebore friend) and I think they would be happy here and I also two different hostas in pots (one a small grey/blue leaf – mouse’s ears? And the other a green and white variegated variety originally from my mum) which would give some front of border structure. The scabious could go back in and A. mollis could fill in any gaps. Do you know Chloris I think I am almost there with this border. Thank you for letting me think aloud in your comments, your blog always inspires me to do better in my garden.

  6. Chloris says:

    Thank you Sarah. And whatever you plant you can always thread snowdrops, winter aconites and Crocus tommasinianus through the bed. And for Spring corydalis, fritillaries and wood anemones.

    • homeslip says:

      Oh good ideas Chloris, thank you, one can never have too many snowdrops and white anemone nemerosa is one of my favourite plants – which reminds me there should be a tiny clump under an epimedium I brought from my old garden. I inherited a carpet of C. tommasinianus under a big old Acer Saccharinum which have been beautiful all month, but the few new ones I planted have all been dug up and eaten. One of my moving-in presents from an old friend was a couple of seed trays filled with her aconite-studded turf, but I’m making new gardening friends all the time so plenty of opportunities for swops. Have been in the garden all day and had such a lovely time in the sunshine. Hope you’ve been enjoying your garden this weekend too.

  7. What a gorgeous variety of spring flowers! The hellebores are heavenly. You have such a wonderful collection. Thanks so much for sharing. Still starved for color and light here in the northeast. – Lynn

  8. The hellebores are so lovely. I love how fancy they look and the variety is wonderful. Thank you, we are still covered in snow. 💗

  9. All your flowers are so beautiful, but I especially like the Hellebores. I kept one sad Hellebore alive for years, but it really didn’t like it here. I’m glad your weather is so good. Spring is early here too.

  10. bcparkison says:

    I am so glad to find you. What a glorious Feb. you are having.

  11. Heyjude says:

    What a wonderful tour around your garden Chloris. I love all of your plants, but especially the Hellebores. And having read about the tommies spreading so well I shall release mine from the pot they are in and replant in a flower bed. Should I do this when they have finished flowering (do in the green) or wait until the leaves have died and keep the bulbs to plant in September? Ditto with irises in pots.

  12. Oh as always it is a joy to see what your top ten blooms of the month are Chloris. Thank goodness squirrels and mice steer clear of snowdrops 🙂 It sounds as if you have been searching long and hard for your new prunus so you must be delighted with it. It’s most eye-catching. I wonder how the name translates.

  13. chickenmomma says:

    What a glorious early spring show! We are still in the depths of winter here. I have had snowdrops blooming, and that has been a real delight. My primroses made it through the winter and my hellebores may bloom soon. I am longing for spring, so your post was a real treat! Thank you.

  14. What a delightful and comprehensive post on spring beauties. Thanks. I love them all, but I have to say that your final hellebore is gorgeous. I’ve lost so many bulbs this year to various mammals that I felt like giving up on them, but maybe tommies are the way to go.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Allison. I think the reason the Tommies don’t get eaten is because they have been their for years. The pests sniff out freshly planted corms and bulbs.

  15. Brian Skeys says:

    A visit to your garden Chloris always helps to lift the spirits .

  16. Christina says:

    I think that Kris and I suffer the same problem with regard to the winter flowering plants. Our autumns are just not cold enough to trigger the plants into growth. It isn’t just tulips that need periods of cold before growing and flowering. As an example the very boring shrub Viburnum tinus has hardly even opened its buds here yet unlike in the UK where it often flowers from November! You have so many treasures I can see you February is a more favoured month for you than it is for me.

  17. tonytomeo says:

    Hey, are leucojum cool too? I was only showing mine off because they were all I had that looked like snowdrops. I do not grow any snowdrops, and I do not intend to. The leucojum just showed up on its own, likely from seed or bulbs washed downriver.
    I lack Iris reticulata too. I happen to grow our native iris, which is not as refined, and not nearly as colorful in bloom. It looks woodsy, and I happen to like it because it just ‘fits’ in here. Iris reticulata does well in other gardens, and grows as if it belongs here. I know it at Alaska iris, but I do not know why.

    • Chloris says:

      No, your leucojums aren’t cool, just the little Leucojum vernum. Only joking. Leucojum aestivum looks good growing en masse, specially on a river bank. And it’s all right, I won’t mention snowdrops again for months.

  18. rusty duck says:

    I have pretty much given up growing bulbs in the ground, only daffodils survive and the occasional snowdrop. But perhaps I should give Crocus tommasinianus a try.
    The lawn mowing here is done with the objective of getting it finished in the shortest possible time and therefore there is precious little opportunity to look out for plants. Remember he even mowed down the rusty ducks last year?

    • Chloris says:

      You do seem to be particularly plagued with hungry wildlife. Yes, I do remember your rusty ducks being mowed down. Most of my trees have been attacked by the mad mower man at some time and several rare specimens have been killed. Your ducks were hidden in the grass but how can you not notice a tree?

  19. snowbird says:

    March hares? How wonderful!!! This is a magical time of the year, I’m enjoying seeing the birds gathering nesting material and seeing the first bees too. I’ve enjoyed a couple of lunches in the garden, it all feels so luxurious. You have so many delightful jewels in so many vibrant colours. Always such a pleasure to visit here.xxx

    • Chloris says:

      It’s years since I saw them boxing so it was a real treat. It is magical isn’t it? I should hate to live somewhere with no seasons, the sights and smells of Spring are intoxicating.

  20. Cathy says:

    So many jewels. And even more so than when we visited. Blewberry Tart is one of my favourites and one of my originals, so about 15 years old now. I have used a bit of lateral thinking and found a space for Ben Chidori which is on order, and a very small JP. Sometimes our gardens can be like those bottomless coffee pots..! 😉 Thanks for sharing and I will get round to changing my link to this specific post (maybe)

    • Chloris says:

      So glad you have found room for Beni-chidori and Jacqueline P, you won’t reget it, they are the aristocrats of the winter garden. You need elastic fences to your garden or maybe another storey; a double decker garden.

  21. bittster says:

    Just the tonic I needed this morning. Snow is falling with more in the forecast and it will be at least a week before the snowdrops show again. I hope you haven’t moved on too far by the time I’m able to show a few photos!
    Strange how differently some plants behave in different climes. Here Leucojum aestivum is a late bloomer which joins the azaleas and rhododendrons, while witch hazel finishes up alongside the snowdrops, and long before the hyacinths.
    Now I’m off to see your greenhouse!

  22. Tina says:

    I love the idea of profling best blooms at the end of the month. Are you aiming for a specific day in which to publish this fun meme? Great post. I’m always fascinated with hellebores–not something I could grow in my toastier climate.

  23. Holly G. says:

    These are spectacular! I can not express how much I enjoyed viewing your flowering magic!

    Every time I thought I had a favorite, I’d change my mind to pick another. Beautiful!

  24. susurrus says:

    I like to see the anemone flowered hellebores too and Blewbury Tart snowdrop is remarkable.

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