The gardening corner of every social media platform was awash with hellebore shots – often with a self-deprecating caption along the lines of “The obligatory hellebore pic”. Why so apologetic, I want to know? They’d be a wonderful plant at any time of year, but in winter when there’s little else but snowdrops about, they rule the garden.
I'd been berating myself for having written a blog post on #hellebores (link in bio) without having first visited the national collection, which is just up the road. Just come back, and I needn't have worried - hardly any are out yet. Plenty more to see at Broadview Gardens though, snowdrops and the salix and cornus beds stealing the show just now.
Take a look at the Instagram gallery of Lucy Clements for some particularly impressive fancy hellebores.
Posting pictures of garden problems can garner helpful advice on Instagram. I’ll be giving this old apple tree, beset by the dreaded honey fungus, a good spraying with a seaweed solution once it’s in leaf, in order to give it a fighting chance for another few seasons.
This lovely #apple tree is a family heirloom, source of much pleasure (and many crumbles) to three generations. Sadly #honeyfungus has taken hold, and it's gradually shutting down, limb by limb. With my horti hat on I've advised it should be taken out, but the owners want to keep it for as long as possible for sentimental reasons. And you know...why not? Its situation means that if it should fall over or drop a branch, it's not going to do any damage, and there's probably a few more decent crops in it. It's a wonderful presence in the garden, I barely even prune it these days so as not to over stress it.
One garden is overrun by couch grass, particularly, though not exclusively, in the veg beds. It’s not the worst of weeds to contend with, though it can run riot if left to its own devices. Quite satisfying to get stuck in and clear a patch ahead of this year’s sowings, though.
It’s that time of year when all green fingers start itching to get seed sowing. Some are more organised than others – my seed collection needs a little rationalisation! I posted a ‘warts and all’ picture of the shelf in my shed where my seed collection lives, which deservedly resulted in me being branded an “amateur” by Beryl who, not content with being the brains behind the great blog Mud and Gluts, is also the queen of the seed-swap and enthusiastic member of the #gdnbloggers community.
“I suppose you've been really quiet for the last few months”, say the non-gardeners. That’s right, because the fairies prune all your fruit trees, wisterias, roses and vines. By February the sinews in a gardener’s forearms are like metal rods, and her grip is positively hydraulic.
Once all the pruning is done, I'll be moving on to those perennials whose attractive seed heads earned them a reprieve from the chop over winter. For now, the birds have a few weeks yet to grab an easy snack, and we can enjoy the sight.
The sky is thinking about snowing today. It probably won't, though my fingers are frozen. Taking time out from apple tree pruning to get the circulation going and record some of the remaining seed heads before I cut them down in a few weeks time. Echinacea, or 'sneezeweed' here, a cold remedy being just the thing for today. #winter
February is also a time of year when scented shrubs come to the fore. I allowed myself to be led by the nose to a couple at Broadview Gardens when I visited last week.
Witch hazel does smell fabulous, though I'm always a little disappointed that the lemon zest flowers don't come with a ready supply of tangily iced cupcakes. It seems an oversight. This one is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise'. I confess, though I probably should, I know neither who Arnold was, nor what he promised – perhaps it was something to do with free cupcakes, an undertaking on which he clearly failed to deliver. Never trust a man with a shrub named after him. #february Edit thanks to @bennell74 I do now know who Arnold was. James Arnold bequeathed his estate to Harvard College, and the Arnold Arboretum on site was where the first Hamamelis hybrids were bred. A.A.23167, or 'Arnold's Promise', was the best of the first bunch.
While the house smells of paint and with another day's decorating ahead, I'm choosing to recall the wonderful perfume of #Daphne bholua 'Limpsfield'. It's a particularly floriferous variety of a plant grown here for late winter scent and colour, but in its native Nepal for its bark, which is pulped and used in making paper. Worth climbing a Himalayan mountain for a sniff. Thankfully I didn't have to go quite so far. #february #plantstories
We’re ending February as we did January, with snowdrops, except now they’re properly open. Later here in the south east than normal by several weeks. But then winter has been – unusually – quite wintery.