In a Vase on Monday. The Winds of March.

‘Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty.’  W. Shakespeare.

I hate to disagree with the Bard, but he has got it the wrong way round.  It is the winds that take the daffodils. It happens every year; the first tall daffodils are standing proudly to attention, blowing their own trumpets and then inevitably we get strong March winds and they land face down in the  mud.  So a little dirty and humbled they end up in my daffodil vase. This year it was the tail end of Freya that caused the damage.

We all have daffodils that we didn’t plant. And I seem to have rather a lot of ‘King Alfred’ which given a choice is the last one I would choose as I prefer the dainty dwarf varieties. King Alfred is welcome to take this daffodil and his burnt cakes elsewhere. But having said that, I can’t bear to see him languishing all over the garden so in a vase he goes. And actually looking at him close up I do rather like his frilly corona.

You might remember from last year that darling Beatrice painted a picture of Hector enjoying a nice bunch of daffodils. Don’t let that innocent expression fool you he is probably plotting which to eat first, the bee or the daffodils.

I also picked a tiny bunch of sweet violets today. They are rather invasive but I have wildish areas where I let them do what they like.

I love the elusive perfume of violets and the way they play tricks with your olfactory senses. You remember the lovely lines about music being the food of love in Twelfth Night?  The Swan of Avon summed it up beautifully when he talked about:

‘…the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour’.

That is exactly what violets do. It is a sort of magic trick. They get their scent from a chemical called ionone which stimulates the scent receptors and then temporarily shuts them down completely. After a while the scent comes back because the brain will register it as a new stimulus. So Shakespeare’s description is spot on and nobody told him about ionone.

You might have noticed that the daffodil vase has daffodils painted on it.

And the violet vase has violets on it.

I am a little embarrassed about this as it seems rather like having your name on the handkerchief. And what is that about? I am never quite sure whether the purpose is to remind you what your name is, or to stop other people stealing your handkerchief. Neither scenario seem very likely. And I do remember what daffodils and violets look like without having a specially painted vase to remind me. But never mind I think they are quite sweet.

I hope the other In a Vase on Monday enthusiasts have not had their flowers blown away in the UK, or buried under feet of snow in the States. But gardeners are a resourceful lot and I am sure there will be lots of spring delights on show today. Thank you Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden for hosting.

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Six on Saturday. 2nd March.

I am joining in this popular meme today, Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator, although being constrained by only six items is a problem for me once I get going.

Number one, I just noticed today that Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ is very unwisely casting off its furry overcoat. It usually blooms in April so I am a little anxious for it. It is a glorious flower, not black, but dark burgundy and goblet -shaped.

Magnolia ‘Black tulip’

Catkins have been amazing this year and I am very fond of the long jade green ones on the Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’. I don’t know who James Roof was but this is the garrya with the longest catkins.

Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’

Of course, when we talk about catkins we have to include Pussy Willow. I have three favourites. One is the pink Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’.

Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’

The second has black catkins ending in little cats’ claws and is very dramatic.

Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’


The third has very delicate little pussy Willows on an elegant shrub and is called Salix purpurea ‘Nancy Saunders’, but you have to take my word for the beauty of this one because I forgot to take a photo and now it’s getting too dark, but it seems churlish to leave it out when it is so pretty.

I don’t usually have a fruit harvest in late winter but this year my lemon tree has excelled itself and so I am going to make lemon possets for my guests tomorrow. Some of them are rather an odd shape but never mind.

This lemon tree spends  the winter in my summer house and lately I have been taking my coffee down there because it is a nice place to sit in February.

 

I am very grateful for this lovely pile of manure which is going to be a delicious treat for my roses. Special thanks to my lovely Pianist who  went up the road and got it for me, a labour of love indeed. The Pianist always says he believes in the dignity of labour, but not his labour. So shovelling excrement is not his favourite occupation. Thanks also to Pickle the horse who is owed an extra nice carrot.

I would like more than this really but I think I’d be pushing my luck to suggest it.

Now how many is that? I must finish with some some shots of my winter garden which is delighting me this year as it is nicely mature at last.

 


Winter garden

The little Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Omoi-na mama’ lights up this part of the garden. I believe it means ‘As I reflect’ in English.

Many thanks to our host, The Propagator, do go and look at the other Six on Saturdayers, it is quite a party.

Each month I write about my top ten blooms and ask you to join in and share yours too. Up to now it has been rather a movable feast depending when I could be bothered. I have decided that it is unreasonable to ask you to join in when the date depends on my whim so I am going to fix it at the 23rd of each month. I hope this will make it easier for people to join in and share their favourite seasonal blooms.

 

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The Greenhouse in February

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In a Vase on Monday. Floating Flowers.

If like me, you get carried away with your flower arranging for a dinner table, you end up with your guests having to duck and dive to see each other as they talk across the table. In my house at this time of the year guests may find themselves having to peer through dancing catkins and if they suffer from allergies they choke on the pollen. So I bought a pretty shallow Italian Majolica dish on eBay. Floating flowers means we can all see each other and they are so easy to do. This little dish wasn’t an extravagance, it cost £3.99 on Ebay. I love the little blue dragon fly. I used moss to keep the flowers upright and filled it with a rainbow of primroses. Job done.




I was so pleased at the ease and speed with which I did this that I decided to have some more floating flowers and the obvious choice for this time of the year is hellebores. We all know how they droop within an hour or two of picking no matter how you preprep them so they are an obvious candidate for this treatment. I found a large shallow bowl that my dear potter friend, Janet made us for a wedding present and I filled it with these beguiling little faces. What could be easier and prettier?

Oh dear, on the dining room table in full sun the colours don’t come out well on a photograph, they will have to go outside.

That’s better. Do join Cathy and the other In a Vase on Monday enthusiasts. It’s great fun.

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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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Galanthomania- Snowdrop madness.

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In a Vase on Monday. Fanny.

Much as I love Jane Austen’s books, I find Fanny in Mansfield Park incredibly irritating. Pious, prim, passive aggressive and with no sense of humour; I would much rather have the disreputable Crawfords round my dinner table.  But lovely Galanthus ‘Fanny’ bears no resemblance to the fictitious Fanny.  No silly blushing for this cool lady, she is tall, self assured and serene.

I couldn’t bear to pick her for in a vase on Monday so I put the pot in a basket and covered it in moss. I found some lichen covered twigs by the river and finished it off with various catkins.The perfect tear drops opened up in the warmth. Finding the right spot to photograph it proved difficult.

I didn’t like the busy background of books in the dining room so I took her outside.
Still not right, so I thought I’d try her sitting amongst the winter aconites.

Finally, I decided the best backdrop is in front of my black compost hot bin.


Fanny is going back into the greenhouse now, I think it is too warm for her inside. So  I picked a bunch of plain Galanthus nivalis to enjoy on the dining room table. These Fair Maids of February  are such a joy and if you plant them somewhere they can spread they will seed about enthusiastically and you will always have plenty to pick. For the best results always buy them in the green, the dried bulbs don’t always do so well, or failing that ask someone with an old garden like mine to give you some.

My next post is going to have to be a snowdrop post because I can’t stop crooning over them. But after that I will take you into the greenhouse and show you what lovely things are happening in there.

Meanwhile do pop over to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find what she has been putting in her vase on this lovely February day. And why not join in and find something to put in a Vase on Monday, it is great fun and you will be one of a very enthusiastic crowd of garden bloggers.

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Iced Landscape.

We awoke to a white garden this morning. I am not a fan of a winter wonderland.  A monochrome landscape leaves me cold. Literally, even if it is a sparkly one.

My poor hellebores and snowdrops are lying face down in the snow. I can’t get on with want I wanted to do. The visit of a very special garden friend had to be cancelled.  So I am not feeling very gruntled.

But the spidery flowers of Witch hazels are quite unfazed by the ice crystals decorating their branches.

Buttons of Winter aconites look pretty against a gleaming white background.

And the cinnamon strips of flaking bark on Prunus serrula shine in the sun.

Prunus serrula.

In the churchyard the sun has melted the snow and swathes of Galanthus nivalis are dancing round the ancient gravestones. This form is not a bit like the form in my garden which has smaller flowers and is still in bud. Some of the best displays of snowdrops can be found in ancient graveyards like this.

But really after a brisk walk the only place for a disgruntled gardener is the greenhouse. Because despite an icy scene outside, spring has arrived in there. My greenhouse is really delighting me at the moment. So a greenhouse post  will be coming up very soon.

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In a Vase on Monday. Twigs.

Today we have had sun and what a difference it makes. It’s been a joy to work outside, buds are budding, birds are singing and snowdrops are carpeting.  Tomorrow it is all going to turn to worms with ice and snow so I’ve been putting hairnets on my vulnerable plants and getting on with my winter tidying.  And it was heaven out there. I wanted to pick some flowers for a Monday vase but after grubbing for hours I can’t walk another step so here are some I prepared earlier.


In the spring I am not too keen on forsythia. If I’d never seen it before I would probably think it was amazing but the stuff is ubiquitous, you find it in every suburban garden and it is such an unforgiving acid yellow. I have dug loads up here but I have left a huge bush by the big pond, a part of the garden you never see because I haven’t done anything to it, apart from planting a variety of bamboos. I keep this one forsythia because in winter it is fun to pick armfuls of it and watch the flowers opening indoors, it is  such a welcome sight in January.


With it I have some pink flowering currant, another plant you see everywhere in spring. Some people can’t stand the smell but I quite like it, like Proust’s hawthorn which he spent so many paragraphs describing, it reminds me of childhood. You probably know the magic trick of picking pink Ribes sanguineum and getting  the surprise of pure white flowers opening up in the warmth of the house.

Ribes sanguinum ‘King Edward VII’

I do have a lovely white flowered one called ‘White Icicle’ but this is a dark pink one.

I also picked some twigs of the Salix gracilistyla  ‘Melanostachys’ which has claw- like buds opening into black catkins with red anthers. As the catkins mature they are dotted with yellow pollen.

Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’

I finished off with some sprays of orange Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’.

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwwinter Fire’

I picked all this last week and it has been lovely watching the buds unfurling. The white jug is Portuguese and I bought it a few weeks ago. I can never resist a jug or ewer as the Americans call them. Who knew? The things you learn when you blog. Looking at the photograph it occurs to me that the white jug would look lovely with masses of white flowered Ribes sanguineum, so I shall pick some for next week.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who has gone for fragrance in her vase this week. If you pop over there you can find out what all the Monday Vase fillers have been up to.

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Top Ten January Blooms.

Of course any January list has to start with a deep curtsey to the queen of the garden, Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ standing in regal splendour by my front door.  She  can grow to be 12 ft tall and mine is already getting there. She is semi- evergreen although in  very cold weather the leaves drop. And she is robed in glorious pink from top to bottom. This daphne is reputed to be somewhat tender but as it survived the Beast from The East last year I think it is pretty robust. After all it comes from  high altitude in the Himalayas. The scent is incredibly sweet and delicious. If you have nothing else in your winter garden, I should find space for one of these showstoppers, preferably by your front door.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Daphne odora is pretty too although not in the same league as glorious Jacqueline. It is slightly tender but the gold edged form, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is hardier. It forms a rounded bush and has glossy evergreen leaves. The flowers are just as fragrant but much sparser.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’

The other star of the winter garden is undoubtedly the Witch Hazel. Cathy at Rambling in the Garden is totally under their spell and has more than anyone I know. And I can understand her need to keep on adding just one more because they come in such a beautiful colours. I have eight and still counting and it really isn’t enough, I want a grove of them. They don’t all bloom at the same time so the interest doesn’t come all at once.  They are exquisitely beautiful with their spidery, sea anemone tufts and they are fragrant. The scent is not noticeable outside but if you pick a few sprigs for a vase they stay fresh for days and release their lovely spicy fragrance. Whatever the weather throws at them they bloom on quite unperturbed. And some of them have beautiful autumn foliage. So really what’s stopping me having my own Witch Hazel grove? Well the price actually, they are all grafted and very expensive.  They are said to prefer an acid soil but they don’t get that here and as long as they are provided with nice compost and not allowed to dry out in summer they are fine. In my garden the reds and oranges are the first to bloom. ‘Orange Peel’ is first of all and it is also my favourite.

Hamamelis x media Orange Peel’

Hamamelis x media ‘Livia’

Hamamelis x media ‘Jelena’

Hamamelis x media ‘Diane’

Here is ‘Vesna’ just coming out and the rest have to wait until February. ‘Vesna’ has the best autumn foliage in my garden.

Hamamelis x media ‘Vesna’

I suppose so many winter flowering shrubs are fragrant to catch the attention of any pollinators brave enough to be out and about when it is so cold and inhospitable. It makes a walk through the winter garden a delicious experience. Sarcococca is gorgeously fragrant, it has a musky, honey scent and it loves a woodland position. Ideally I would love a hedge of these beauties similar to the one at Anglesey Abbey which makes your walk from the car park to the visitor’s centre such a sensory delight. But they are expensive to buy so I content myself with a few dotted about the garden. They  are evergreen and bear plenty of berries, in fact the name means ‘juicy berry’ so maybe it would be worth trying to grow some from seed. Sarcococca confusa has quite broad leaves and cream flowers. It has black berries after flowering.

Sarcococca confusa

 Sarcococca hookerianna var.digyna is shorter and has narrower leaves and the little flowers are tinged with pink.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. Digyna

My latest one has purple stems. The leaves are flushed with red.

Sarcococca hookeriana var. Digyna ‘Purple Stem’

I chose lovely Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’ for my December favourites list. It is looking better than ever and is quite unperturbed by the freezing cold weather at the moment.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’

But this month’s clematis is a little tender. It can take temperatures down to -5 which is about 23 fahrenheit I think. So just in case I will probably keep it in my cold greenhouse. I love its waxy white bells and evergreen foliage.

Clematis urophylla ‘ Winter Beauty’

I have a very special little daffodil which is usually blooming by Christmas Day or at the latest the beginning of January. This year for some reason I have only got leaves and no blooms. It is going to get very careful feeding and watering this year because the little charmer is one of the joys of the winter. It is very rare and special, it is called Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ and you can read about its history here.  I popped down to my green-fingered friend Maggie’s to take a photograph of hers so that you can see what it looks like. It is only 10 inches tall and a perfect gem. This freezing morning had all the snowdrops and hellebores drooping about on the ground  looking miserable but this little chap is quite unconcerned.

Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’

But I have a little narcissus in the greenhouse to enjoy. I am not sure how hardy it is but anyway, I am going to keep it in a pot so that I can enjoy in comfort.  Outside its delicate beauty would might get spoiled.  It is the hoop petticoat Narcissus  romieuxi ‘Julia Jane’.

Narcissus romieuxi ‘Julia Jane’

Gradually the carpets of winter aconites Eranthis hyemalis are spreading. They start off as perfectly round yellow buttons surrounded by a green ruff. As soon as the sun comes out they open out into buttercups. Reginald Farrer complained that the colour is ‘almost dreadful, an acrid, malavolent yellow…’ Well, he was difficult to please. In fact he said he retired into his orchid house to kill woodlice in January.

Eranthis hyemalis

Not only did Farrer complain about winter aconites but he said snowdrops gave him chilblains. He said: ‘Was there ever such an icy, inhuman, bloodless flower, crystallised winter in three gleaming petals and a green flecked cup?’ Ungrateful man, with opinions like this I hope the woodlice ate all his orchids.  I am going to try and be restrained and just show just a few of my darlings. I know a lot of you think a snowdrop is a snowdrop but you are quite wrong there. We are perfectly poised in the snowdrop season with plenty to enjoy now and plenty still to come. Most of them are looking too sad  and frozen to be photographed  today so here are just a few. The rest will perk up when the freeze comes to an end.

I admit I am a hellebore bore, well who can resist them there are so many wonderful new hybrids? The first to flower is usually the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger but I prefer to keep it in a pot in the greenhouse because outside it often gets splashed with dirt and eaten by slugs.

Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Cheer’

I keep Helleborus lividus in the greenhouse too because it is not quite hardy as it comes from Majorca.

Helleborus lividus

The wonderful Helleborus x eriicsmithii hybrids are a cross between Helleborus niger and Helleborus lividus, they are all gorgeous with lovely foliage and masses of flowers.

Helleborus x ericksmithii ‘Winter Sunshine’

And then we have the Rodney Davey Marbled Leaf Group, a lot of them with girls’ names.  I love ‘Penny’s Pink’ but ‘Anna’s  Red’ is a particular favourite.

Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’

But I also love ‘Cheryl’s Shine’

Helleborus ‘Cheryl’s Shine’

And not forgetting ‘Molly’s White’.

Helleborus ‘Molly’s white’

All the Lenten hellebores which used to be Helleborus orientalis are now Helleborus x hybridus which makes sense as their are so many hybrids around now. I have plenty in the garden because the previous owner clearly liked them and they have seeded around very happily. The only care they have is a bit of bonemeal in March. In early January I cut off all the leaves to display them better and to prevent the spread of blackspot. Tougher leaves like those on the Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius don’t seem to get this though and their leaves are part of the attraction.

Helleborus argutifolius

Another hellebore with apple green flowers is the native Helleborus foetidus which is short- lived but it seeds around with abandon.

Helleborus foetidus

The little irises which are a joy in February will be featured next month but I couldn’t resist adding one which I have in bloom in the  greenhouse right now.

Iris reticulata ‘Halkis’

For my last January flower I am going into the house. My father grew orchids and had a specially designed orchid house where he kept them. Mine have to do with window sills. But the north facing kitchen window sill suits them very well, although my resident chef complains that they are in the way. Still, that is one of the penalties of living with a plantaholic.  The Moth orchids, Phalaenopsis are the easiest and very cheap to buy now that they are micropropagated. They bloom for weeks in the summer and then rest for a while and by January they are off again, one almost gets tired of them because they are in bloom so long. The dark Cambria orchid is rather more refined and sophisticated. I have two slipper orchids, Cypripedium and they just bloom once a year in winter, they look almost unreal. The pansy orchid, Miltonia is more tricky and I have trouble keeping it. It has the added bonus of being fragrant. The large Cymbidium is my pride and joy because  this is the first time it has flowered in three years. They can be reluctant to flower every year. Mine live in the garden in the summer and when they are not in bloom in winter they have to stay in the greenhouse where they take up far too much room. The main pest of these orchids is scale insect although I have found miltonias susceptible to mealy bug.

 

I would love it if you would share whatever you are enjoying in your January garden. It doesn’t have to be ten, even one winter beauty would be lovely.

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