Tag Archives: Hellebores

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!

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

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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!

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“Bring Me Sunshine”

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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.

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Quite stunning!

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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?

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Is anything bringing sunshine to your gardens?

Oh, Dear! Never Mind!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Maybe, even, too nicely!

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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.

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

I went to Ashwood and…

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….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…

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… and pure whites.

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Singles…

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… And doubles.

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

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…and frilly pinks.

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

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…or amongst other bright and cheerful winter planting.

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What a sunny display – with scent thrown in!

Then there’s all the different markings.

Spots…

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… and even stripes!

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Such perfect little faces!

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

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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.

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And one for the Galanthophiles!

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

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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

Daffs

Daffs

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….

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….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…!

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…. 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!