The last 3-4 weeks have been cold here in London, cold, windy and with very few days with sunshine. The weather has finally turned milder lately, but with the rain we have had this week I am pretty desperate for some sunshine. I was trying to dodge the showers today while taking my photos for the February Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post, but after going inside 4 times I just stayed outside in the rain to get finished. February is the month where it is most likely to get snow here in London, we are now half-way through and still haven’t had any snow at all – let’s hope we can finish this month without any. Last time I had snow in my garden was February 2013, but that snow only lasted a few hours on the ground.
I am starting my post today in the front garden, with the lovely Garrya elliptica 'James Roof', which has been growing in this pot for more than 10 years. If planted in the ground it would probably have been 4m tall and wide by now, in the container it got to this nice, manageable size about 6 years ago and hasn’t grown since. Perfect for a container.
The flowers, or catkins or tassels, whatever you call them, are the real feature of this lovely bush, and they start to grow in late autumn.
By January they start to open up and they last well into March before going off.
This evergreen bush is just a backdrop to my other plants the rest of the year, but right now it is the star performer in my front garden and I often see people through my window stop and look at it.
The plants in my window baskets are slowly starting to bulk up and getting into flower. The cold weather has made them later than usual, but hopefully things will speed up now.
These rosebud primroses are not so happy with all the rain either, they get a bit brown-edged.
When I bought them online, this was what I thought I bought – this was how they advertised them (photo courtesy Jersey Plants).
The reality is a bit different though, they only look like rosebuds before they actually open up.
Pretty enough, but I think they will end up in the main garden when I change to the summer bedding, and I won’t have these again in the window baskets.
The Bellis perennis 'Belle' have been flowering since December, each flower last for months. This one seem to have misunderstood a bit what bit should be where :-)
Let’s move to the back garden and see what’s happening here. By first glance it looks like not a lot, apart from the green dots here and there by the evergreen plants.
But get a bit closer and you can see there are flowers everywhere. The last couple of weeks I have been mainly working in this bed and I am not completely finished yet. The two Dregea sinensis on the arch have been dug out, and I have planted 2 new David Austin roses instead - 'Gertrude Jekyll' and 'The Generous Gardener'. Can’t wait to see them in flower over the arch! I took out ALL the spring bulbs that were here, put them temporarily in pots and most of them are back in the bed again in their new position. So are two of my other David Austin roses, 'Wildeve' and 'Scepter'd Isle' that I moved from other places in the garden, and I have planted daylilies along the edge plus a new dark red peony I have had growing in a pot, still small and yet to flower. I will write more about the changes here in my End of Month View post on the 28th February.
Here is the flowerbed from a different angle, the daylilies are emerging, but not really visible yet. But the main feature in my garden this month is snowdrops! I have them everywhere, in every flowerbed and in pots all over the garden.
They really brighten up the shelf here, these were dug up from the bed in the previous photo and will be put back somewhere in the garden after flowering.
I especially like these double snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno', despite their unusual look they are dead cheap compared to many other snowdrops.
Nothing cheap about this look! But you can buy them in the green right now for £11 for 100 of them, sent you in the post (UK only).
I also have some more rare and a bit more expensive snowdrops, this is Galanthus elwesii 'Maidwell L'.
This is Galanthus plicatus 'Warham' .
And this is Galanthus woronowii.
And of course I have lots and lots of plain Galanthus nivalis – don’t get me wrong, they are pretty too, and even cheaper than 'Flore Pleno', 100 single snowdrops in the green bought right now cost £8.50 from where I usually buy them. In addition to all these I have showed here, I also have a few G. elwesii 'H. Purcell', already finished flowering and a few G. nivalis 'Sam Arnott', not yet fully in flower.
The Iris reticularis are flowering too, these were dug up after emerging, planted temporarily in pots, then put in the ground again and are now flowering. Tough plants, don’t seem to have harmed them one bit being treated like that. This is Iris reticulata 'Pixie'.
And these are Iris reticulata 'Harmony' and were growing in these pots last year too, I just tucked the pots under my garden bench after they were finished flowering and they have been standing there until late November last year when I moved them back on the path. I did wonder if they would come back again growing in these small pots and it seems they are OK with that.
There is more spring bulbs in my garden – the crocuses have been flowering sporadically since early January but now they are really taking off.
Well, that is, whatever’s left from what the squirrels have eaten! This area was packed with crocuses last year, there are a few still emerging but there will be nothing like last year here.
This is what it looks like when the squirrels haven’t actually taken the whole bulb, instead they nibble the new shoots just as they emerge and when the flowers come out they are damaged. Really sad, I must have several hundred crocuses in my garden looking like this.
Moving down to the bottom of my garden it looks like not much is happening here either – at first glance.
But there is! Lots of new Primula vulgaris on the way. They haven’t done so well during this winter, after nearly 3 years in constant flower I think they all need dividing and I have started to dig them up and split them, but with the amount I have it will take some time to get through to all of them. This clump is one of the newly divided, and it only took a couple of weeks for them to start flowering.
Down here at the bottom of my garden are most of my hellebores. Some has been flowering since early December and some are still emerging. This is Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine', sadly a favourite of the tiny slugs.
I have seen many ericsmithii hellebores online and some of them are very pretty, I think my 'Winter Sunshine' lives up to its name, it is rather pale and washed out in its colours. I think I will get a couple more to plant next to it with darker colours and patterns - maybe that will make this one look better.
Here is one of my oldest hellebores, a single Helleborus hybridus, 11 years old this year.
And this is Helleborus hybridus 'Picotee'.
And this little baby is my pride and joy right now! I used to deadhead my hellebores before, as they were hanging over the edge and onto the lawn. In 2011 I made big changes to the garden, got rid of the lawn and moved all the hellebores to where they are now. As a result, I let them all set seed and this is a seedling from the first batch of seed from 2012, now flowering for the first time. It is a baby of the hellebore 2 photos up, so it seems it will look exactly like its parent. I have several babies from the 2012 batch and some from 2013 too.
And this year it seems like I will be able to get as many seedlings as I want, this is a mix of all the different ones I have from seeds of last year, and it won’t be possible to tell what colour they will be until they flower, in 2017.
But back to things flowering right now, the first bud of Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' is about to open, this lovely rhododendron is also here at the bottom of my garden.
And the Grand Old Lady of my garden, the huge camellia has been opening one or two flowers for more than a month now, it doesn’t really flower until March so the main display is still a while away.
But there are hundreds if not thousands of buds just waiting for the right weather. This camellia got a hard prune last spring after it was finished flowering. I filled 5 big rubbish sacks full and the pruning has done it good, all the dead branches are gone and it looks more compact and even in shape. I have no idea how old it is as I inherited it with the house, but it could be as old as the gardens around here, which means it was planted in the late 50s or early 60. That means the camellia is older than me and I am 50 :-)
The tiny baby-camellia ‘Takanini’ is continuing to flower, now in its 4th month of flowering. It is really just a twig in a pot, but is growing steadily. This camellia will be a wonderful plant when it gets big and mature and covered in these red flowers for 5 months every year!
And just a glimpse of my nursery shelf, it is already groaning under the weight of all my pots, and I haven’t even sowed a single seed yet! Where am I going to put it all??
Over my seating area I have a 2 year old Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom', it grew like mad last year, so much that I had to cut off 2/3 of it as it was just too big for this area. It grew further than this, all the way to the corner, and the weight of it tore down the second trellis it was hanging on. I had kind of decided to get rid of it as you can’t really prune evergreen clematis, if you do you won’t get flowers because the flowers come on last year’s growth.
Or so I thought....the clematis is now covered in these buds! They look just like the buds I had last year so my vicious pruning doesn’t seem to have had any detrimental effect after all. Maybe I’ll let it stay and just prune it every year. Perhaps my clematis hasn’t read the gardening book instructions – won’t be the first plant in my garden not to follow the norm!
My Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' is slowly getting into flower, it has spent more than a month from opening the first flower to looking like it does today, and still there are mainly unopened buds.
The scent is heavenly and I am so happy I finally took the plunge and bought one 2 years ago.
I still haven’t decided where it will be growing permanently so the poor plant is still in a pot, I think I need to make up my mind this year. Once planted that’s it, it is one of those few plants that really shouldn’t be dug up again. I also have bought 2 Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance', seen here right in front of 'Aureomarginata' – they are destined for containers eventually, but are still small so there is no rush.
Some more flowers? There are lots of cyclamens about still, I like these dots of strong colour spread around the garden at this time of year.
The flowers are so unusual and they look good no matter how much it rains :-)
Some flowers are about to end, this is the last of my Viburnum 'Farreri', it has been flowering since November and is now putting on leaves.
And some are just about to come out, this is Chaenomeles 'Crimson and Gold' and when in full flower it is a spectacular seen. I didn’t notice the aphids on it until I got inside and got the photos up on my computer screen, but there they are – the aphids have arrived, spring is just around the corner, only 2 short weeks and winter is officially over here in London.
Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Garden for many more February gardens around the world. That’s all for today, thank you for taking the tour with me round my garden, until next time, take care.