Snowdrops and pools of winter aconites

February Garden

February is a month of such surprises. How many of us have actually counted the number of different genera flowering in their garden in February – there are always so many more when you go out to look for them – I got to 20 genera this morning.  I thought I would list them and then ask people living within the Ticknall Life orbit to add what they have to the list below – then we can get a picture of the richness of our surroundings in this deep winter month.  Anything that is flowering with you and not on this list – beware!  I shall almost certainly try to add it to The Dower House garden to enrich a happy-making tapestry of brave winter bulbs and shrubs.  So here we go – these are mine:  I would love to know yours.    

  • Snowdrops of course
  • Winter aconites in pools of gold
  • Iris reticulata and Iris unguicularis untroubled by slugs because of the cold
  • Crocus untouched by frost and the occasional floury of snow
  • Cyclamen coum lighting up areas where you least expect to see them
  • Hellebores of course, looking beguilingly fragile but in reality so strong
  • Winter clematis – in my case ‘Winter Beauty’ and ‘Freckles’ (the latter not looking great)
  • Sarcoccoca confusa wafting its scent around the garden from its useful evergreen balls
  • Daphne bhuloaJacqueline Postill’ a star performer, with its magical scent and mass of blooms
  • The yellow Coronilla  valentina subsp. glaucaCitrina’ which will only stop flowering in March
  • Winter honeysuckle: well known ‘Winter Beauty’ and the palest pink (new) Lonicera elisae  
  • Camellia japonica – red as well as white, the red flowering early this year so a great bonus
  • The fragile looking, rather tender Winter forthysia Abeliophyllum distichum
  • The pale blue Scilla mischtschenkoana appearing much earlier than usual
  • Yellow, red and orange Witch hazels – I love their urn shape
  • Red berried Skimmia
  • Yellow Corylopsis pauciflora, a shrub so loved by the bees
  • The beautiful catkins of Salix ‘Mount Aso’ (just surviving, nearly lost last year)
  • Viburnum tinusEve Price’ though many people will have a better example than mine
  • Even the tiny flowers on Parrotia persica are, each year, a February wonder!

The emergence of each and every one of these winter jewels seems to me like an annual miracle.  I never cease to be amazed that they find their way out of the near-frozen ground, emerging with such perfection whilst the wind, rain and a sulky sky sit over them. And when I watch a bee buzzing busily around the daphne, I cannot but feel the world’s problems recede into a different perspective.    

Who will add to this list?  Please do, to help us lift our spirits in a month when so many people think there is nothing much to see.  There is actually so much to appreciate in the garden at the moment for at this time of year we take nothing for granted.  Every spark of colour is a joy.    

So many people are disinclined to go out and look – or indeed put on a pair of gardening gloves,  yet what could be nicer than tucking plants under a duvet of mulch, pruning roses, getting the garden ready for its rejuvenation – for its eternally amazing rebirth.

I shall love to know what you can add to this list and you could tell me – in the comments below – or by email to

Pam Adams writes with some examples to add from her own garden:

  • Lots of yellow primroses dotted around.
  • Winter flowering heathers – such long lasting colour and no trouble.
  • Anemone blanda have spread widely and are a carpet of colour in sunshine.
  • Hyacinths are In full bloom; many the legacy of indoor Christmas ones planted out.
  • Pulmonaria flowers are giving the early big bumblebees a treat.
  • Brunnera is flowering early. Spreads too readily but I love its bright blue flowers.
  • Chaenomoles has a mass of red flowers now as usual – so reliable.
  • I could also add muscari and ipheion but as I have a constant battle with both of them they come bottom of my list!
Griselda Kerr
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Griselda Kerr

If not in her Melbourne garden, author Griselda is probably designing, judging, writing or talking about gardening.

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