The days are beginning to pull out, lighter mornings and also evenings too. Yippee!
I love getting wrapped up and walking over the fields in our village with the kids and hubby this time of the year. We love to visit St Mary’s Church in Washbrook which is in an isolated position among the fields, about three miles west from the centre of Ipswich. The church is now redundant and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. There are parts of the church which dates to the 12th century but the majority is the 14th century. Well worth a visit!
Snowdrops in the graveyard
My focus, this month are the beautiful graceful Galanthus. The children love exploring the snowdrops at their different growing stages. The graveyard is littered with these beauties and when they die back, they make room for decandant Daffodils.
More snowdrops out and about!
The snowdrops have been cross polinating and there are doubles and singles, the way they sweep and cover the ground, it is truly a sight to see and worth the walk.
My mother in law is a “Galanthophile” (an enthusiastic collector of snowdrops species and cultivars).
A few years ago, for her birthday, (also in February) we bought her an expensive, highly sought after Galanthus plicatus “Wendys Gold”.
‘Wendy’s Gold’ is a bulbous perennial to 20cm with broad, grey-green leaves. The white flowers have a yellow-green ovary, and a long, yellow-green mark on the inner petals. She now has a couple of lovely clumps.
Wendy’s Gold snowdrops
She has a new Galanthus plicatus, it has wider leaves and delicately, dimpled white petals, which catch the light.
Mum’s prized snowdrops!
There are so many beautiful snowdrops out there to admire and explore.
My advice, wrap up warm and get out there!
Winter is often regarded as a quiet time for flowering. However in mild winters we may see many stunning, vibrant plants begin to flower as early as December. An unexpected eruption of colour sprouting out from an otherwise bleak garden has the ability to lift anyone with winter dampened spirits. Find below our top five winter wildflowers for the upcoming cooler months.
This flowering tuber is a tough, resilient plant perfect for winter gardens. Despite this the cyclamen is well known for its delightfully quaint little scented flowers. The sophisticated five petal flowers display shades of white, purple or pink.
The flower stem twists and coils into a spiral after flowering, to bring the cyclamen fruit (which also doubles-up as a seed disperser) closer to the ground for bugs and insects to feast upon.
Cyclamen are a tad sensitive to both under and over watering. Therefore ensure the plant is placed in soil that has excellent drainage and is rich in fertile, organic matter. A spot in partial sun or full shade is the perfect place to plant cyclamen.
The hellebore, known also as the “Lenten rose” is a gorgeous winter flower. When it flourishes with beautiful softly shaded petals you’ll know immediately spring is near. Most hellebores have small maroon dots dispersed towards the lower portion of each petal. If you want a flower that stays blooming for a long period of time, this plant is your friend. The flowers you see in January will be the same flowers you see towards mid-spring; however they will fade slightly – sometimes to a lighter shade, sometimes darker.
The hellebore prefers shaded areas. Avoid planting the flower out in the full sun. If you’ve got a spot next to your house that’s usually difficult to plant, something that’s really dark and shady, that’ll make a good place for a hellebore.
Winter aconite is a clump-forming tuber that holds cheerful cup-shaped flowers. Their bright golden-yellow petals may seem familiar to you; the flower is a member of the woodland buttercup family.
The flowers of the winter aconite are temperature sensitive. They’ll remain tightly closed until the winter chill is over and temperatures return above 10°C. The flowers then proceed to spread open triumphantly in all their golden glory, allowing the brave early bees to feast on their delicious pollen.
Winter aconite flourishes in both direct sunlight and below deciduous trees. The plant will be happy in most soils but particularly loves moist, chalky earth.
Don’t prejudge the pansy by its name. This small but hardy plant is colourful winter to spring and wonderfully easy to grow. Whilst other flowers are freezing over, this fighter remains blooming even in light snow.
Pansies are a beginner gardener favourite. They require little maintenance and are resistant to disease. The iconic round flower has five distinct petals and is one of the oldest plants to be cultivated. They have a delightful ever so slightly minty flavour and can be used to decorate salads.
Pansies must be planted in full sun well before the first frost. This will give the roots time to develop and settle. They are hungry plants and will perform well when fed frequently. Take care when watering in winter as to prevent the soil beneath them freezing.
Okay we’ll admit this is a long shot! The snowdrop isn’t exactly the most colourful winter wildflower. However this unique bell-shaped flower deserves a mention, being the gardener’s signal that the worst of winter is over and spring is on the horizon. Its name is certainly appropriate. To many gardeners’ surprise, snowdrops may boldly emerge from the deep, warm depths of the earth even when thin, sparse patches of snow still cover the landscape.
Snowdrops are very hardy and thrive well in dappled shade. They’ll be very happy scattered between shrubbery and beneath deciduous trees. Snowdrop bulbs are perfect for planting in the autumn time, ready to burst out after the worst of winter is behind us. They prefer moist soil with lots of humus.
So that’s our run down of our top five winter hardy plants to survive the impending frosts – Happy planting! Feeling inspired? Check out National Garden Gift Vouchers who are also running a Herb Garden Competition.
What is it about snowdrops?
I’ve always been in love with snowdrops. For as long as I can remember. It might have something to do with the fact that they are the harbinger of spring. The first signs that the sleeping garden is starting to wake again from its winter slumber. After several months of drabness, and no colour, the pure green of the snowdrop stems, particularly obvious when they come poking through real snow, is such a joy to the heart of any gardener. They seem so fragile, so tiny, but yet they are strong enough to push their way through the heavy snow, or through the cold earth to find their way into the rays of the winter sun.
Snowdrops, the sign that spring is on its way
When I was younger, I never knew that there were different types of snowdrops, they all look the same if you don’t get close enough to really look at them, and really appreciate the delicate nuances of difference between the different breeds. When I moved to university my mother gave me a tiny glass vase. I couldn’t work out what the point of it was, it was surely too small to actually put anything in, other than maybe to use as a pot for storing earrings or something similarly small… But come late January, it became clear what the use was… Waiting for me in my pigeon hole when I got back from lectures, was a brown parcel, about the size of margarine tub… I opened it, and that’s what it was… A small margarine tub – the writing on the brown paper was my mother’s – she’s gone completely mad I thought; why is she sending me margarine? I opened the tub – it felt too light to have margarine in it, and inside, wrapped in damp tissue, were six perfect snowdrops. I picked up the phone and called her immediately – the first ones from the garden at home that year – a piece of home, a piece of heaven, a piece of her. ‘That’s what the tiny vase is for’ she told me. Magical.
Every year she did the same thing, tiny snowdrops, sent hundreds of miles, connecting me with her, connecting me with the garden of my youth. Now that I have my own garden, I collect the first snowdrops from my own garden and the vase sits proudly on my kitchen table. The only difference is that my passion for snowdrops has grown. I wouldn’t say I know enough about them yet, or indeed have enough different varieties to call myself a galanthophile, but I’m definitely well on my way! I like to visit snowdrop gardens – Welford Park just outside of Newbury is breathtaking. Like a carpet of pure snow, with a scent so light that it carries on the air, and unless you really pay attention you’d miss it altogether. This year I’m going to Bennington Lordship, in Hertfordshire, and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. I can’t wait.
You can read more on my blog: theenglishrose.blog.com