Tuesday 28 February 2017

Goodbye winter, hello spring!

I can’t believe we are in March already, where did winter go? I have been so busy with so many things, and in my garden winter is one of the busiest times so I have tried to get a bit done now and then when I have been feeling up for it. The weather has slowed work though, it has been an unusually cold winter here in the South-East, but an hour here and there outside with 3-4 layers of warm clothes and good shoes and I can get a bit done. There’s LOTS still to do in my ‘new’ garden, but I am slowly getting there :-)

When it comes to the inside of my house – with adaptations and renovations, a few things have been done since last time i posted, but only minor things. I have spent an incredible amount of time writing emails, letters and making phone calls to move things along – but there’s still the biggest job left to do, which is the renovation of my bathroom. I am so looking forward to having it done....and I am so dreading the process of getting it done! I still haven’t got a start date so no idea at the moment when I can expect everything finished, but I have waited a looooong time now so it should be my turn soon.

In my garden the biggest event in March will hopefully be to put down an automated watering system. I will need help to do the installation so when it will be finished will depend on how many people I can mobilise for the job. And in the middle of all this I am still recovering from torn chest muscle and slipped discs from last year. Yep, never a dull moment around here!

The last few days it seems winter has decided to show off one last round of anything and everything – we have had all sorts of weather starting with the storm Doris which really could be felt here in London. And after Doris the temperature has plummet again and we are back in single figure day temperatures. Today we even had a 3 minute hail storm! But the cooler weather is only for a few days, spring is definitely here and I can already feel the sun is getting stronger.

Rhododendron ‘Bo Peep’ has been flowering since beginning of January, in this cool weather the flowers last much longer than later in the spring – a great advantage with early flowering plants.

The flowers of ‘Bo Peep’ are pretty pink with freckles. 

But it is when you see the flowers against the sun that they really are at their most exquisite – with tissue-paper-thin flowers and a sparkly surface they look like little jewels.

OK, so the rhododendron might have flowered for almost 2 months already, but the Iris reticulata have let me wait this year – they are all rather late due to the cold winter.

But once they emerge they are very quick to open their beautiful flowers. I have them spread around the garden and they are usually flowering before any crocuses or daffodils – and to me the Iris reticulata are announcing spring.

The hellebores are late to the garden party this year too – very late actually. I usually have hellebores in flower before Christmas but this year it was early February before any flowers opened. This ‘Picotee’ is a beautiful one, I am glad it managed the move from my previous garden – some of its cousins did not, I am afraid quite a few of them died the first summer cooped up in my pot jungle.

Another pretty hellebore from the Lady Series, give them all another 10 years and this woodland area will be absolutely covered in hellebores. Well, that’s the plan at least!

I have a few Helleborus niger and they flower earlier than Helleborus hybridus. 

Most of these Helleborus niger have been flowering since early January, and as long as the temperature is as cool as it is now, they will go on flowering for a long time.

The snowdrops are almost finished, only a few patches in shade part of the day are still in flower.

Iris reticulata, primroses and pansies.

The primroses have been in flower since October, but are really taking off now.

The day I was taking these photos the sun came and went – and didn’t stay long enough for the crocuses to open their flowers fully like they do in full sun. But give them a nice sunny day and they will open, all of them. I have no idea how many I have left – and how many have become squirrel lunch. Time will tell!

One more helleborus photo? I got another photo of some Helleborus niger :-)

I have a video for you today, it’s the end of the month and although I am writing less and less on my blog I still want to try to keep up with making a video and write a post on the last day of each month. As usual, if you want to get the best viewer experience with my videos, please use full screen and view in HD – 720 or 1080p.

The day I was filming I was treated to a full squirrel crew – which is ALL THREE OF THEM at the same time messing about. And boy do they make a lot of mess, but they are not the only one, the pigeons and the foxes are pretty messy too. I am still seeing the fox quite often and she is eating bird food most evenings. I am just letting her have it – sunflower seeds and peanuts. At least she isn’t digging any more holes so if that means paying her in peanuts then so be it! There’s no fox on this month’s video, she has been rather shy the last few weeks, but there’s hopefully plenty of other things of interest.

The music was Liebestraum (which means love dream), by Frantz List.
Next blog post will hopefully be on Friday 31st March – in the mean time I hope to do some more short posts on Facebook and Instagram where I have been rather absent the last month.

I hope you have lovely gardening weather – and if your garden is buried under snow right now, just remember it won’t take long before the snow has gone and spring arrives everywhere.
Until next time, take care :-)


  1. Hej Helene!
    Det är härligt att se allt fint som blommar i din trädgård, här ligger det mesta under snö och is. Helleborus hade jag också i blom, men de ligger begravda i snön. Längtar tills jag får se krokus och andra vårblommor. Men tills dess får jag njuta av dina fina bilder.
    Ha det fint /Marika

    1. Takk Maribel, jeg håper det er en liten aning av vår hos deg, men i mellomtiden deler jeg gjerne mine vårblomster :-)

  2. It's sad that you lost some of the hellebores but I just adore 'Picotee'. If she is robust then she will suit my heavy soil. Definitely going on the list. Beautiful irises too. I shall try some in pots for next year, see if they do better for me that way. Take care Helene.

    1. Thanks - I think the most robust hellebores I have are those I have grown from seed myself. And that's something I often see - those nursery grown, pampered primadonna plants think they will get the same treatment once they are in the ground, but nope - not in my garden! And they might be fine where they are planted but try to move them and they are not so happy anymore. Plants I grow myself, hellebores or anything else, are much more robust (having already been through the survival of the fittest and a number of squirrel attacks before leaving my nursery space!) - so if they need moving they usually cope better.

      I have started to buy hellebore young plants from Hayloft, they are great price and usually flower the following year. Plant in tall, slim pots when they arrive and plant out in the autumn or the next spring. Great saving if you need many and want different types. I have 10 double plants on delivery in May :-)

  3. Dear Helene, I truly enjoyed reading your post and watching the video! Spring certainly has arrived in your garden!
    I really love the Rhododendron ‘Bo Peep’, what a fascinating flower it has. The name is somewhat silly though, not doing the plant any justice.
    All your iris reticulata are so pretty as well. You seem to have so many in your garden. It is beautiful that their blue color has such an impact in your color scheme at this time of the year.
    The white hellebores niger are some of my favorites as well. There is nothing that can beat the beauty and purity of these blooms.
    Wishing you well for your ongoing recovery and that your bathroom remodel starts soon!
    Warm regards,

    1. Thank you Christina, the weather has been rather cool so far in March so the hellebores are still going strong, all except Helleborus niger, they are all finished.

      The council is still wrapped up in red tape regarding my bathroom adaptation and renovation, I spend a lot of time writing emails, phoning and simply trying to bring the case forward. As of yet I have no idea when it will start but soon I hope. Soon :-)

  4. Your garden is certainly looking springlike and I enjoyed your wonderful post as always. The blue iris and white hellebores are lovely and I also like your Rhododendron ‘Bo Peep’. It is always such a pleasure visiting your garden Helene and I hope you continue recovering nicely. Also, best of luck with your renovation. Just keep thinking how gorgeous it will be when the project is completed...just like gardening!

  5. Dear Helene,
    Your Rhododendron is gorgeous. I agree with you, this winter has been rather awful in northern Italy too. But it is over!From now on we will have a lot of months full of gardening activities.Your garden is getting more and more wonderful. I envie your helleborus. They are dramatic!Mine used to be gorgeous, but they were almost killed by some slugs. They are recovering but they are nothing if compared to yours.

  6. We have a very similar collection of flowers and many of ours are later than usual too.

  7. Your garden has certainly launched itself into spring, Helene! It's been unusually cold here too, although I suspect our version of cold and yours are 2 different things. I love your beautiful hellebores - I've planted several but only 2 varieties have ever bloomed. All I have now is a few promising buds. I find it odd that they habitually bloom (if they bloom at all) well after those of gardeners in colder climates - usually our warmer climate has the opposite effect on bloom cycles. What we do have in common, though, is greedy squirrels! Mine have finally figured out how to break through the defenses of my "squirrel buster" bird feeders so it seems I must find and implement new theft control procedures.

  8. Goodmorning Helene, it's great to see that spring arrived in your garden. What I miss in Holland is te sun. I know it's not summertime in February but when I look outside the vieuw does not make me happy. My little garden looks like a swamp, at the moment my roses are with theire feet in the water. It's not the kind of weather I prefer. But we have to be patient spring will arrive one day.(lol).
    I wish you a beautiful new month.
    Rosehugs from Holland.

  9. Hello, Helene! I'm glad you had a time and opportunity to write this post, that is interesting as always. Love your vernal photos and especially of the Rhododendron ‘Bo Peep’. Very lovely bloom! My garden is under the snow but it melts fast as we have +5 C today. Soon green grass will appeared.
    Take care, dear!

  10. Your late winter garden is certainly looking like spring and it is beautiful as always. Good luck with your automatic watering project.

  11. Beautiful video as usual, please don't stop making them! They give so much pleasure. The progress in your garden is just amazing. It encourages me to me work in my garden too. I hope the installation of the watering system goes well.

  12. I really like the Iris, Primrose, and Pansy combination. I'll have to remember that! And the lighting--especially the oblique lighting on the white Crocuses--is wonderful! I'm sorry you've been struggling with past injuries. I hope you're feeling better now. It was fun to see the critters in your garden video. Your new garden seems just as wonderful as your old one!

  13. Hi Helene, like the look of your updated site, not sure if losing your blog as the opening page is such a good idea.
    Still plenty to see in your garden even with Winter not being so kind as usual. Hope you get your bathroom sorted out soon.

    1. Hello Alistair, you had me a bit puzzled for a while here, and frantically trying my blog in all electronic devices I have - which is quite a few, but nope, Blogger has not messed about with our blogs again. Phew! My blog looks just like it always has done, I wonder if you have typed in the address manually and not written 'blogspot' as part of the address? If so you might have ended up on my website instead! I have a website with the address www.graphicality.co.uk and it is actually much older than my blog - the website has been running since 1999! Is that what you saw? I can assure you, my blog is still here, separate from my website and with it's own address: http://graphicality-uk.blogspot.co.uk

      Aside from all that, thanks for your comment, winter has been rather kind here after all, can't really complain even if it has been a bit colder than average. My bathroom hasn't even been started on - the work is currently heavily sunk in red tape and even though I am begging, pleading, phoning and writing emails as often as I can - I still have no idea when work will start. Must admit patience is wearing a bit thin now after 1 year and 10 months....the only thing that keeps me going is the thought that it will be done in the end - and take much longer if I don't keep up the momentum.

      I hope you both are OK, I have seen you are back in Scotland but haven't been leaving any comments anywhere lately. I will try to catch up with everyone soon, when I get head above water - but I saw photos of your new bungalow and I'd love to have that room with windows on 3 sides - perfect for growing orchids indoors :-)
      Good luck with planning the garden!

  14. Helene, ah! I had been messing about on my site with the blogs which I visit and ended up inserting your website instead of your blog which I previously had. Fortunately. on there I found a link to your blog. Hope you get everything completed soon, moving house is quite a strain, this is the last move for us. Garden is taking shape now. I thought the cooler weather here may get me down a bit but its not to bad at all, sun has been warm enough to take a seat outdoors these last couple of days. Keep well. Alistair

  15. A very belated thank you to all of you for your lovely comments!


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