For the past couple of days, we have seen welcome spells of sunshine, amid squally showers where the brutal winds throw rain horizontally at the house.


While the ground is still saturated in places and the winds are fierce, the garden is beginning to slowly unfurl. Small clusters of snowdrops curve around the front of the long border; many are in their second year now, while some were added late last spring from one of the many vigorous clumps in my Mum’s garden. It will be a few years yet before they form good clumps, but they are already slightly less sparse than last year.

Crocus tomasinianus and pulmonariasA splash of purple deep in the border caught my eye; closer investigation revealed a single slender Crocus tomasinianus bud. It has sprung up so close to the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ that my Mum gave me that it must be an escapee from her garden, where they run riot into the lawn from the borders each spring. I scattered my own seeds of C. tomasinianus along the front of this border last year, which will take two or three years to flower if they germinate and establish. How lovely to find a surprise forerunner: when it has finished flowering I shall move it forward to the edge to help introduce a swathe of purple here in years to come.

Across the garden, there is a splash of deep violet from our small Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’, a rich contrast with the motley pinks and purples of its species cousins that romp around the long border.

Black pussy willow bud, Cyclamen coum and primrose

For weeks there have been huddles of Cyclamen coum leaves covering the pots which I stood in the borders, along with their offspring which I transplanted directly into the ground. I shall plant the contents of these pots out this year as well to establish themselves. New clumps of wild primrose leaves have appeared throughout the borders again this year as they spread themselves about delicately, while the older plants have been flowering non-stop all winter.

The black pussy willow, Salix gracilis ‘Melanostachys’, which we planted last year in memory of our cat, Willow, has beautiful vivid red buds and the first furry black catkins beginning to emerge. I think she would have liked it…

Early daffodils

An unknown pot of daffodils has burst into flower at the side of the house, to join the chorus blooming in our front garden: I don’t recall putting any Rijnveld’s Early Sensation into pots when I planted them two autumns ago, but the early appearance of these would suggest otherwise. I must make better notes!

Shoots of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, Euphorbia griffithi Fireglow and unknown seedling

CW from top left: Shoots of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, Euphorbia griffithi Fireglow and unknown seedling.

Everywhere there are signs of new life emerging. A Euphorbia that my Mum gave me in the autumn has a beautiful green spear of overlapping scales, lapped with pink, while one of the most exciting shoots is that of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, charmingly known as ‘Molly the Witch’, which I bought at Great Dixter at the end of October. There was something a little disconcerting about buying what seemed to be a small pot of compost with no discernible plant life, and I’m sure my husband thought it an odd choice to bring home, but what a beautiful pink shoot it has pushed forth! I have yet to decide where to plant this to best enjoy its beautiful yellow flowers in the future: not a quick plant, this, it is unlikely to flower for a number of years, but I believe it will be well worth the wait.

There is anticipation indoors too; while I am yet to sow the first seeds of the year, an unknown seedling has germinated in a pot of mint cuttings that I took last autumn and have nursed through the cold months. I suspect that I re-used compost for these cuttings, so this may well be something that I sowed and lost patience with that has finally responded – or an errant chilli seed. Time will tell; the first true leaves are just beginning to appear.


20 thoughts on “Unfurl

  1. Sometimes I think we garden ears have more hope than good sense, here I mean me as much as anyone else! A few shoots and we are happily thinking of spring when good sense will tell us that February is usually the coldest month. But I believe that it is good these things bring us happiness or else winter would be sooooo depressing. Christina

    • Tracking the little changes must be our way of holding on through an otherwise long winter. Of course, there’s every chance we will have hard frosts and maybe even more snow for months to come, but – there are flowers, and shoots! It’s good to be reminded that winter will pass 🙂

  2. I am very impressed indeed by your Pulmonaria, and am going out to threaten mine immediately. i’m not even going to mention your daffodils… oh, rats…

    • I love the vibrant flowers on the little Blue Ensign, that my mum gave me towards the end of last year. The ‘standard’ lungworts have been flowering their socks off – gently – for months.
      I know the daffodils are early. They still give me so much cheer though. And they *could* have started flowering in December by all accounts. That would definitely have been disconcerting though.

  3. Blue Ensign is one of the pulmonaria I like best, the colour of the flower is so brilliant. Elizabeth gave me a couple last year, and yesterday I noticed they were in flower such a treat. Love this post, it makes me want to go out and really look at the garden to see what is appearing …. I shall do that right now! 🙂

  4. I don’t think any of us would be gardening if we didn’t feel this hope and excitement every year – thanks for sharing yours. Molly the Witch sounds so endearing – I must look her up. AND I must go on a search for my ‘Blue Ensign’ – maybe it has just been misplaced in my changes last year, but if it has gone for ever I shall definitely have to find another!

  5. A few of my snowdrops have emerged – we had a few very warm days recently, but now are again in deep freeze. However, your pictures remind me that spring’s return is inevitable. Thanks.

  6. Bah humbug no sign of flowers on my pulmonaria! How lovely to see so many signs of promise in the shortest and usually most miserable of months weather-wise. The willow looks a beauty, what a nice way to remember your feline friend. I love the vision of the purple crocuses, something to really enjoy watching develop over the years.

  7. It warms the heart to see these first flowers. My Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ is just showing the first flowers. Such a deep blue colour. My white ones are always much later. I’ve got primroses appearing all over the place. They are such gorgeous flowers, it’s a real treat that they self-seed too. Apparently we have more cold weather on the way, hopefully it won’t last.

  8. Sheesh, another year and I still haven’t bought any pulmonarias. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who buys plants when I have no idea where to plant them! Dave

    • Ah, the species pulmonarias romp away here since my Mum gave me a few clumps. I’m not sure I ever buy anything knowing exactly where to put it, perhaps that’s my undoing!

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