Six on Saturday. More Winter Beauties.

Usually, by the end of January, I have had enough of winter, but this year has been so bright and sunny, that I am happy if it lingers a bit longer so that I can enjoy my winter garden in its winter dress. I have a wonderful gardening book, The Startling Jungle, published in 1986, by Stephen Lacey which for years was my gardening Bible. But one thing I would disagree with him about, is his idea that winter-blooming plants should be dotted amongst the garden’s skeletons rather than corralled together to present what he calls ‘an unnaturally bountiful picture’. Clearly Stephen doesn’t want to be startled in February. What nonsense; who wants to see the odd jewel rising from a sea of brown, soggy desolation? Well, my winter garden is not exactly Disneyland, but it is full of colour and gives me enormous pleasure because everything in it earns its place. If we get a sunny day without wind I shall have another go at doing a video so that I can show you round.

I have shown you quite a few twigs and trees with beautiful bark, but so far I haven’t featured my beautiful Acer griseum. This is sometimes called the Paperbark Maple because it has lovely, tattery, peeling bark. It is a beautiful cinnamon colour. In autumn, it gets lovely red foliage. This is one of my ‘must have’ trees. It is slow-growing and doesn’t get very tall, so it is suitable for small gardens. It is one of the finds of Wilson who introduced it from China in 1901.

Acer grieum.

Ribes laurifolium delights me on two counts; because it blooms in winter and because it has green flowers. I don’t know why, I can never resist green flowers. Ribes is in the Flowering Currant family and I am very fond of them and grow quite a few. This one has leathery leaves, hence its name. It is the earliest into bloom. It does sprawl rather so it is better trained up a wall if you have space. Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers Nursery says it belongs to ‘the Miss Whiplash School of Gardening‘ and must be securely tied to a wall where it will grow up to 6ft tall. I have a much more laissez- faire attitude and I like mine to sprawl and this way it is easy to layer. It prefers semi-shade. I have the form ‘Amy Doncaster’, but ‘Rosemoor’ is another one to look out for.

Ribes laurifolium ‘Amy Doncaster’

Whilst I am taking about green flowers I have to slip in the apple-green flowers of Helleborus argutiflolius which means ‘holly-leaved’. It used to be easier to remember when it was called Helleborus corsicus. This lovely plant seeds about the garden once you have it. It has been in flower for ages and is a real asset in the winter garden.

Helleborus argutifolius

Hellebores are coming out all over and as they do very well in my garden and seed about prolifically. I have carpets of them, although this doesn’t stop me buying one or two specials each year. Really they deserve a post of their own so I will just show you a couple for now. The first one is a picotee seedling which I am particularly fond of because it looks at you quite boldly and so many of them hang their pretty heads.

The next one is an anemone- flowered seedling which looks right up at you.

Double hellebores look as if they are wearing frilly party dresses.

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ is the earliest large trumpet daffodil to bloom and in sheltered places it appears in January. People seeing it think that it is a unusually early, but this is its normal time to bloom and that is why it is very well named named; daffodils in early February are sensational. This is quite an old daffodil, it was bred in 1943 by F. Herbert Chapman. I was intrigued to know why it was called ‘Rijnveld’s Sensation’ and found that although it was bred by Chapman, it wasn’t until 1956 that a Dutch nurseryman, Rjnveld registered it in his own name, which seems rather a cheek.

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld‘s Early Sensation’

Dwarf irises are like little winter jewels but many of them, specially Iris reticulata hybrids have to be renewed frequently. Iris histrioides is more reliable. Having said this, I find Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’ comes up year after year and it is always one of the first miniature irises to bloom in my garden. It has velvety, purple blooms which are fragrant but only if you get on your hands and knees to sniff it.

Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’

The lovely sky-blue Iris ‘Katharine Hodge’ is quite reliable too, but not so early. But I did find one little bloom growing through the ivy.

Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’

I can’t finish without a couple more snowdrops. They are my passion and keep me entranced throughout February. I am always worried about overloading you so I think a drip- feed of two or three at a time is the best way of showing them so as not to bore you. Today, the first is Galanthus ‘Robin Hood’ with his distinctive cross on the inner section.

Galanthus ‘Robin Hood’

The next one is a twin-headed seedling which has appeared in my garden. I think it is a seedling of Galanthus elwesii ‘Kite’ which regularly produces two heads per scape.

Galanthus elwessii ‘Kite’ seedling

And finally we have Galanthus elwesii ‘Godfrey Owen’ which is quite distinctive because it is the only elwesii to have six outer petals and six inner segments so it has nice, rounded flowers like little lamp shades.

Galnthus elwesii ‘Godfrey Owen’

February is a wonderful month as long as we don’t get any snow; the birds have started singing, the afternoons are staying light longer and each day there are more and more snowdrops and hellebores to enjoy. And I have lots more to share with you.

I shall try to come back next Saturday with some more February treasures. In the mean time do check out The Propagator and his ever-growing band of Six on Saturday enthusiasts.

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40 Responses to Six on Saturday. More Winter Beauties.

  1. Pauline says:

    Lovely selection as always, especially the hellebores and snowdrops! Your Robin Hood are ahead of mine, another few sunny days needed here.

  2. Heyjude says:

    I welcome the slightly longer days, though it’s been pretty dull and overcast mostly down here. Windy today! I like your hellebores that hold their heads up. And for some reason my early daffs are still only just coming into bud! Last year I noticed they were already in flower.

  3. fredgardener says:

    What a choice as always ! I also have irises “Katharine Hodgkin” but not opened yet while the first “Cantab” has now been open for a few days. Acer griseum is still on my wishlist…

    • Chloris says:

      These little irises seem to come out at different times which is lovely as it means we can enjoy them for long periods. Acer griseum is a fantastic addition to the winter garden.

  4. You have so many blooms for the winter months. I am in a semitropical climate and the few flowers I had are gone after a two-day freeze.

    • Chloris says:

      I was so surprised to hear that you have freezing weather. I thought you had perpetual summer.

      • Cold fronts come roaring down the plains from Canada. Today it was 78 F and tomorrow night a front will drop our temperatures down to 34 F. Last year the temperatures went down as low as 5 -13 F and the electric grid went down statewide. Two hundred people died and many houses were ruined from burst pipes, as they are not insulated here. This is the wild west and global warming apparently hasn’t hit.

  5. tonytomeo says:

    Iris reticulata is pretty cool. I have never met it before, but have seen it in pictures of gardens where winters get colder. It seems to be somewhat popular. So do snowdrops, which is another that I have never met. It was explained to me that they are popular where there is not much to bloom at this time of year.

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed little irises and snowdrops are the joys of winter here. But whereas snowdrops spread into carpets, irises have to be constantly renewed.

      • tonytomeo says:

        I am not familiar with that species, Iris reticulata, but I do find it to be very appealing. It resembles a native species, but seems to be a bit more refined, and with clearer color.

  6. I love green flowers, too and the Hellebore. How wonderful to see spring bulbs in February.. I agee with you about a dedicated winter garden, looking forward to the video.

  7. Noelle says:

    Its a treat to read through this post and see not only great pictures but pick up tips and background to the plants you show. I how two bulbs each of Godfrey Owen and Robin Hood new to the garden this year, and now my expectations for next year are well stored.

  8. Kris P says:

    I’m glad you’ve enjoyed pleasant weather this winter, giving you ample opportunity to observe developments in your winter garden. Your hellebores are gorgeous. I planted Iris reticulata in pots this year for the first time but, although foliage is pushing up, I think there’s a long way to go before I see blooms. Our very dry weather isn’t helping my bulb blooms, especially as temperatures are on the rise. One trusted weather expert says that our rainy season may already be over (!), which is depressing to say the least.

  9. Anna says:

    Beautiful gems as always Chloris. My vintage copy of ‘The Starting Jungle’ was getting rather tatty and well- thumbed so much so that I bought another copy in a second hand bookshop. A most excellent read.

  10. A lovely selection of hellebores.

  11. What a stunning selection. My garden is still at the soggy morass stage!

  12. I think I agree about aiming for maximum winter flower power. It’s nice to have something to lift the spirits at this time of year. I’m rather partial to Helleborus argutifolius, although it seems to be an acquired taste judging by other people I’ve spoken to!

    • Chloris says:

      Well I don’t see what’s not to like in masses of celadon- green, cup- shaped flowers and attractive jagged foliage in February. As you say, anything which lifts the spirits in February is welcome.

  13. bittster says:

    February is looking very floriferous and I wouldn’t mind a winter garden video at all. Here the only color is white, and it’s not from snowdrops. I’m very thankful to see spring taking off elsewhere, and feel free to mention as many snowdrops as you can!

    • Chloris says:

      I went to see a woodland garden yesterday that was so thickly covered with single and double nivalis that it looked as if it had been snowing. I still haven’t done that video, it has been so windy.

  14. Lovely, as always. Although I am not an expert/mega-fan I do enjoy looking at other people’s snowdrops, so keep on keeping on. The paper bark maple is a favourite of mine, but to resist peeling ………. can you?

    • Chloris says:

      But I see you have ‘Magnet’. It only takes one special snowdrop to send you down the slippery slope into addiction.
      I don’t peel Acer griseum or Prunus serrula but for some reason I am compelled to peel my birches. And scrub them.

  15. You are fortunate to have winter blooms! We barely have such a thing here–no blooms until March. That paper bark maple is truly special!

  16. snowbird says:

    What a delight your winter garden is. I totally agree about having all the winter colour

  17. Lovely choices from your winter garden. I’ve always thought that dedicated heather/conifer gardens made ‘an unnaturally bountiful picture’

  18. Sarah Rajkotwala - Author & Spiritual Teacher says:

    How lovely to see beautiful flowers in winter! ❤

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