Tag Archives: Hellebores

Little Vases.

I’ve recently ventured into the world of Instagram and was prompted, by a post, to show off my new set of little vases.

Julie at Peonies and Posies had posted a photo of a similar set of little vases, in white, filled with pure white snowdrops – so beautiful! I thought it was high time to put mine to good use .

Our clumps of snowdrops are now expanding well, with so many blooms available to cut, but I wanted to choose colours more in keeping with the colours in the vases – and I’d already cut some snowdrops for a couple of displays indoors.

The “piece de resistance” had to be the gorgeous dark red of the hellebore “Anna’s Red”, and I wanted to choose colours to complement this. A perfect choice was Chimonanthes praecox, whose colours seem to be the reverse of the hellebore – yellow petals to match the centre of the hellebore, with a wine-red base similar to the colour of Anna’s petals. That also brought in with it, its gorgeous, spicy perfume! Some greenery was needed, along with some pinky-red tones to complement “Anna’s Red”, courtesy of a few sprigs of Skimmia rubella and Sarcococca digyna.

I must say though, that while I love the scent of Sarcococca in the garden, and the way it hits you so unexpectedly, I’m not so sure I’m so keen on the perfume indoors! I also noticed it recently while enjoying Ashwood nursery’s glass house displays of hellebores and winter flowering shrubs, with lots of Sarcococca on show. Never mind, the Chimonanthes wins!

So there we have it! My little vases with complementary dusky shades. A most wonderful pressy!


The Beautiful Calm

There’s something strangely beautiful about this time of year.

I love the calm that follows the hustle and bustle of the festive season. There’s something nice about ” getting back to normal” and that’s finding the time again for other things.

Now I must admit that our stove is more appealing just now than the great outdoors, with this spell of cold, damp, dreary weather, but it’s well worth making the effort. After all the Christmas tree had to be disposed of.

Five minutes with the secateurs reduced the tree to the trunk and the base. Final result is another log to edge my woodland bed and a bit more firewood for aforementioned stove. ( The branches were recycled courtesy of our green recycling bin.)

So now with that job ticked off my “getting back to normal” to-do list, I had my stroll down the long garden path!

It was all looking decidedly damp and disheveled. The winter weather has taken its toll – flattened grasses and a worryingly, sorry-looking Helwingia shrub, which had been doing so well.

But looking past these set backs, all the wonderful signs of regrowth are starting to appear.

The first crocus shoots poking through….

….and the rhubarb (Oops! I need to weed!)…

And of course, the snowdrops nestling alongside an unfurling hellebore – “Anna’s Red” – under the coloured dogwood stems.

And with all the delight of the gorgeous fragrances wafting out from the Lonicera fragrantissima and Chimonanthus praecox (among several others) shown at the top, it was, in all, a most rewarding stroll.

That’s the strange beauty of this time of year.

It’s hard to hibernate when the garden is waking up! 😀

In the Bleak Midwinter?

Well, it did seem to be the case, sitting indoors listening to the rain, yet again, pattering against the window. Looking out at grey skies can really dampen the spirits. But then again, the view from the French windows, had to produce a glimmer of cheer.

The sight of Garrya elliptica’s beautiful long catkins, like icicles, led me to venture out with iPad in hand. Never mind the rain!

So glad I did!

I was heading right to the end of the garden (how brave!) to the Woodland garden, hoping to find the first signs of Spring there.

En route, I paused to take in the perfume of our Mahonia japonica – a sniff of early lily of the valley!


Then on through the Allotment to revel in the sight of this year’s rhubarb poking through.


And then reaching the Woodland, to discover all that I had hoped for!

What with snowdrops, perfume and the promise of joys to come, it’s not so bleak at all!


“Bring Me Sunshine”


At last! A bit of sunshine, to lighten the gloom and lift the spirits!

All this wet and windy weather recently, has well and truly dampened the spirits, so, with a bit of welcome sunshine, the walk round the estate was much more pleasant, and I’m pleased to say, not so rushed. O.k., here, it may still be cold and very blustery, and not conducive to dallying for too long, but it was a pleasure to wander, and to take time to enjoy the new season’s offerings.

And that’s hellebores and snowdrops.

What better way to rejoice in the sunshine than to share with you, my aptly named hellebore, shown at the top. An Ashwood hybrid, from the “Sunrise” range. It has the most wonderful warm shades of yellow, peach and red – unusual colouring in a hellebore.

Talking of red, just look how my Hellebore “Anna’s Red” has come on, since the early buds I showed at the end of last year.


Quite stunning!


I think it looks quite at home in “The Dogs Bed”, alongside the complementary coloured stems of Cornus and the expanding clumps of Snowdrop “S. Arnott”.

Other hellebores are starting to unfurl now, in varying shades of white and pink. Give them a few more weeks and they’ll make a pretty picture, when the “February Gold” narcissi start to open and new green shots emerge.

I took time to survey the borders (i.e. do a lot of thinking!) to try to work out the changes I am considering. I do fear I may be trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot! Let’s hope I can be disciplined!

And what can bring more sunshine than the earliest of yellow narcissi?


Is anything bringing sunshine to your gardens?

Oh, Dear! Never Mind!


This just sums it up!

I must confess I have been struggling for inspiration both in gardening and blogging. I could blame a late holiday. I could blame six weeks of world class rugby for taking my interest. And I could blame decorating for taking my time. But that was many weeks ago. I don’t even think I can blame the usual Christmas panic. All is in hand for once. After deliberating this strange situation, I realise I must blame the weather. It has truly dampened my spirits – not to mention the garden.

I hate wind! More than any other weather episode! Apart from the arch, it has also blown down a fence panel and countless pots have been blown over and debris been scattered around the garden. Climbers have been torn from their supports. Everything is sodden. The garden is in a sorry state. And the truth of the matter is, that the newly decorated indoors is, just now, more appealing!😩

Don’t panic, though! This illness is acute, not chronic! And time is a healer!

Despite the minor destruction, there is still much of interest in the garden. My all important scent is still present, in the form of Mahonia japonica, Lonicera purpusii and Coronilla Citrina, with many more perfumed buds waiting in the wings – complete with new shoots! I’m already seeing signs of bulbs coming through, and hellebore flowers pushing their way through the damp soil. Festive red skimmia berries are so welcome! Even roses are still managing to bloom, as my last vase shows.


This is when foliage plays its part. Especially grasses. They are not just for summer!

Hakonechloa macra

Hakonechloa macra


What a beautiful bright gold to brighten the gloom!

That said, I feel there is much room for improvement. Many of our shrubs are either overgrown, or underperforming. The domineering ash tree is, I’m sure, now having a detrimental effect. So a rethink is on the cards for the New year.

The tree must go, the surgeon has been appointed, and we are awaiting a date.
That will let in so much more light. I want to add loads of soil improver to the shrub borders, to improve the quality of the soil, probably quite malnourished. I want to look closely at the flower borders, and ruthlessly dispatch those that are not performing well. I’m well aware of the growing number of scented shrubs dotted around the garden, still in their original containers (if they haven’t been blown over!). I think I must follow my passion in redesigning these borders, shifting the emphasis towards these shrubs. Many, which are struggling planted on the shady side, may appreciate a move from the dark side. I must keep myself in check, though, and not be too hasty. Who knows what a difference a tree makes – or lack of it!

So, despite the grey skies and gloomy weather forecasts, there is much to look forward to next year. It’s quite exciting, really!

That’s what gardening does! 😀

Welcoming Spring


Sunday morning saw a short glimpse of spring. We realised it wasn’t to last. By afternoon the wind and rain was due to return, so we took the chance to grab a couple of hours to make inroads into all the garden tasks lined up for us.(And anyway, come the afternoon, the next round of rugby matches would be calling us indoors!).

The job today was to remove a large branch of next door’s lilac tree, (with permission, of course!) that was constantly bashing me in the bonce! Not a job for secateurs, but for a chain saw.


I should have taken a “before” picture, but Mr. Chef was well underway by the time I thought about it. That was the easy bit! Now it had to be disposed of!


But at least now the woodpile is starting to take shape.

It wasn’t all work. The sun also brought out a few gems to enjoy. The Woodland Garden, where we were working away, was starting to look good, with all the tiny jewel-like cyclamens, dotted around under the newly opening dusky pink, nodding heads of the Hellebores.

Elsewhere, in the Cottage Garden, it was the crocuses that were making the big impact. The sun was bringing them on and they were starting to open up and show us their faces.


They were planted when we first started planting up the Scented Shrub Border, as an understorey for the shrubs, and they are really spreading out nicely.


Maybe, even, too nicely!


But Sunday’s highlight (definitely not the rugby! 😦 ) has to be the Ypsilandra thibetica I found last year, after I had seen it featured on a fellow blogger’s post (thank you, Chloris!). Its healthy clump of green leaves has been there since then, but now the flower buds are starting to appear.


I can’t wait for its first violet scented flowers to bloom!

I went to Ashwood and…


….took some photos!

Today is Hellebore day at Ashwood Nursery, when you can view all their hellebores and have a tour of the nurseries. And, no, I have not joined in. Today is also a Six Nations day (and Valentine’s Day, but that is by the by!) and I don’t think Mr. Chef would deem hellebores a suitable substitute for 30 men chasing an egg shaped ball around a pitch. To be fair, I would think twice, so I had my cake and ate it yesterday instead! I had a sneak preview!

On a cold, wet miserable day, it was the perfect antidote. In the main glasshouse at the nursery, is a huge display dedicated to Winter in Bloom, and is the main display area for their Ashwood hybrid hellebores, along with lots of other lovely winter bloomers. They had masses of Camellias just waiting to burst forth. There were spicy scented Hamamelis, skimmias, winter flowering clematis. There were tiny, jewel-like cyclamens. The highlight, of course, was the Hellebores. Every colour (almost) and marking imaginable!

There were sultry blacks…


… and pure whites.




… And doubles.

Pretty primrose yellows… (this is called “Moonlight”, I believe)


…and frilly pinks.


Some gorgeous sunshine shades, from their ranges with names such as Daybreak, Sunrise and Neon, all beautifully displayed in colour co-ordinated wooden crates…


…or amongst other bright and cheerful winter planting.


What a sunny display – with scent thrown in!

Then there’s all the different markings.



… and even stripes!


Such perfect little faces!



But the star for me was the red one I spotted last month.


From the Rodney Davey marbled group called “Anna’s Red”. Isn’t she stunning?

The show gardens were looking spot on, although some “refurb” seemed to be going on.



And one for the Galanthophiles!


Now, the big question – did I buy anything? Of course I did!


I got the Hamamellis I have been wanting for such a long time. Hamamellis “Imperialis” with lemon yellow flowers, that are much longer than normal, giving a more impressive show. Complete with a sweet, heady scent too!

And I just couldn’t come home without “Anna”!

The Cutting Calender – March



Another round-up of cuttings to peruse!

“Daffs” came out top for me. Just a simple collection of odd blooms, but I find daffs in a vase to be the cheeriest of displays. Always a “must have” in our house, even if they’re bought or grown indoors as bulb arrangements, but so much nicer cut from the garden! The setting of my simple vase, on our crockery dresser, makes the picture complete.

The other contenders are our Hellebores.

Hellebores floating

Hellebores floating

A well recognised way of displaying these winter beauties, as you can more easily appreciate the beauty of the blooms, which normally hang their heads from view. It lasted well, too, for many days. And it showed all the varieties we have in the garden.

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

A beautiful, smoky black hybrid, which normally resides in our “Black & White” beds.

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

This lovely, pink one, here displayed with a fresh, new leaf of Anthriscus “Ravenswing”, is normally making itself at home in the “Woodland”. The leaf just sets it off beautifully.
These last two small, vases, were displayed together at either end of our mantle shelf. I think they look just splendid against the grey wall!

Hard choice!

I went to Ashwood and….


….came home with Jemima Puddleduck!

Don’t worry! I haven’t lost it entirely! I wanted to buy a present for my new niece, and shopping here is so much more pleasurable than having to tackle the dreaded Shopping Centre. And while I was there…!


…. I gave in to last month’s temptation and purchased one of the beautiful hellebores I was admiring then. (I did promise there’s always next month!) I know the season is almost over, and although still looking good, they are getting past their best, but I was not just getting a beautiful hellebore, but also a bargain! Who could turn it down? It is one of the Ashwood garden hybrids, with yellow cups, backed with peachy, pink and flushed red in the centre. I know where that’s going!

That was not my only garden purchase. As well as the bucket of chicken manure that’s needed at this time of year, I also added an Oriental poppy – Papaver “Patty’s Plum” – to be added to one of my new herbaceous borders. Love it’s smoky plum colour – so spectacular though short lived. I already have one in another bed in the garden, but I’m too impatient to propagate it – I want instant results! Hope to show you it’s progress later!

Spring sunshine and promises of things to come.


It’s amazing what a bit of warm, sunshine can do, not just to our spirits but also to the garden!

I was walking round “The Estate” yesterday, and suddenly, all had become “spring-like”. The crocuses and daffs from the last few weeks were being overtaken by so many other new buds and flowers. Signs of life and promise were bursting forth everywhere.


The crocuses we planted first, are really spreading out now and creating impact. However, are now starting to look past their best for this year.


The forsythia, which we inherited when we moved in, has stayed even although it doesn’t “fit” my scented border theme, purely because I didn’t fancy trying to dig it out! Instead, I’m keeping it well pruned to keep it from dominating, and using it as a host for a scented climber. I’m trying to establish a Clematis rehderiana through it. This one has pretty, lemon bell-shaped flowers, with a scent of cowslips. But the forsythia’s cheeriness does earn it it’s keep, at this time of year! Here it is, starting to do its thing.


These new shoots of another scented clematis, this time Clematis flammula, definitely show the promise of things to come! This, despite being cut back hard in Feb, will smother its arch by the end of summer. Its shower of white starry flowers, billow forth providing a spectacular display. And yet the scent is quite delicate – a soft, almond scent.

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

Two of my Ashwood hybrid hellebores are going great guns at the moment. These are in my two small “black & white” beds. You can’t tell here, as is the nature of hellebores, but the white ones have wonderful purple/black speckling inside the flowers.

Prunus incisa "Kojo-no-mai"

Prunus incisa “Kojo-no-mai”

And my beautiful Cherry! I love it’s quirky stems, and delicate, soft pink flowers. I was determined to have some Cherry blossom in my garden – no scent granted, but another lovely, harbinger of spring. As I was running out of border space, I opted for a dwarf variety to grow in a pot. What a choice – it’s been a thing of beauty ever since. This year I’m planning to treat it to a new, bigger pot!


These unnamed primulas and dwarf narcissi, are remnants of a previous Mother’s Day present – a potted plant display that my son bought me two years ago. Once the display went over, I planted them out. And haven’t they done well! They sit nicely at the end of “The long garden path”, nestled around our statue in the “woodland” area.


My tulip shoots are coming through too. I wanted to grow some in a spare pot I had and fell in love with a recommendation of Sarah Raven’s – “La Belle Époque”. It’s described as a double tulip, mainly pink, with coffee colouring at the base of the petals and with flashes of crimson and green. The picture looks nicer than the description sounds – trust me! I’m looking forward to seeing it flower.

Woodland in spring

Woodland in spring

And to round it all off, a shot of our “Woodland” garden, which I revamped last autumn, by adding some more shrubs for autumn interest at the expense of some poorly performing perennials. It’s coming on!

All this, and the sounds of spring too! The bees were buzzing round the new blooms, and the birds, now busy, we’re twittering away. And eating out in the garden for the first time this year. Roll on summer! (Hope I haven’t jinxed us now!)