I was busy yesterday so I missed Six on Saturday, so I’m afraid today it has to be Six on Sunday. It is such a joy to walk down the garden on a sunny February day as it was on Friday and to hear the blackbird in full voice, the woodpecker industriously drilling into trees and to find a sea of silky, lilac Crocus tommasinianus has magically opened up. These little Tommies need the sum to open but when they do, early bees appear and spring seems to be showing a tentative face at last. They are the first crocuses to bloom and I love them more than their big, fat, shiny Dutch cousins.
And amongst the lilac I have the odd one which is yellow tinged with lilac.
The lovely little lampshades of Leucojum vernum have come out all of a sudden and surprised me too, I hadn’t noticed that they were in bud.
And of course, I can’t let February go past without showing a couple more snowdrops . They are wonderful this year and despite the lack of severe frosts, they have not been eaten by slugs as they sometimes are when it is mild. Galanthus ‘Anglesey Abbey’ is distinctive because it has shiny, apple green leaves and dainty flowers with either no green markings, or just the merest spots sometimes as these have this year.
I am very fond of Galanthus ‘Augustus’ which was named after E. A.Bowles. It is a plicatus snowdrop and has broad leaves with a pale stripe down the middle and nice, chunky, dimpled flowers. It spreads well in my garden.
I have three snowdrops with yellow ovaries and marks on the petals; ‘Madelaine’, Spindlestone Surprise’ and ‘Wendy’s Gold’ and they all make nice clumps. This is ‘Wendy’s Gold’.
It’s funny how many yellow flowers are called gold. It is the same with foliage; yellow foliage is usually described as gold, which I suppose sounds more impressive than yellow. I once had a large garden where I could indulge all my horticultural whims. So in a sheltered corner, I made a little ‘gold’ garden with ‘gold’ foliage and ‘gold’ flowers. It was enclosed by hedges and had a round pond in the middle with a little fountain. One day when I was sitting smugly contemplating it, it suddenly dawned on me that what I had was a yellow garden, it wasn’t gold at all. It was all very yellow, every leaf and petal of it was yellow. It all turned to custard in my eyes and I couldn’t love it as much after this revelation. Anyway, this little iris is a hybrid of ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ and it is called ‘Katharine’s Gold’. And as you see it is yellow.
And this is Iris unguicularis which has been blooming all winter. It looks far too fragile for the coldest days. It is wonderful for vases if you pick it in bud.
I don’t really have the soil for camellias and the ones I have planted in the garden look quite miserable apart from this one which grows and flourishes and has beautiful pink and white blooms in February. I wish I could remember its name. Usually frost turns the flowers brown but this year they are unscathed. It is a mystery why this camellia does so well, it grows right next to a walnut, Juglia regia which I always thought poisoned the soil. In front of it is Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ which is also extremely healthy. For some reason, I seem to have a little acid pocket in this corner. And with the elephant’s trunk grey of the bare walnut, it is a pleasing group.
Fragrance is very important for the winter garden. It tempts out the bees and delights passing humans. I particularly value flowers that you don’t need to bury your nose into because the scent drifts on the breeze. For this reason I have sarcococca dotted here and there. I think the most fragrant variety is Sarococca hookeriana var. digyna which comes from China . Its little creamy tufts are pinkish at the base and they are not very noticable, but the scent is amazing. It is difficult to describe but I’d call it a musky sort of honey.
So those are my six, but every day there is more happening. February is a short month that can be cold but usually you get a few delightfully sunny days and every day there are more beautiful surprises in the garden. Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator and I hope my Six on Sunday doesn’t break the rules too much by being a day late.