Torrents of rain, fierce winds and plummeting temperatures continue to push into February.
Yet sometimes the sun breaks through, for an hour here or there, drying up the ground and illuminating stems, leaves and flowers in splashes of intense colour around the garden. The leaves of Bergenia ‘Eroica’ glow crimson through the winter; a handsome plant which I hope to propagate. It will shortly be joined by some small plants of Bergenia ‘Abendglut’ which I raised from seed last year that are currently overwintering in the greenhouse, to form a ring around the base of the old birch tree in place of the Geranium macrorrhizum which currently scrabble around its roots.
There is more colour from two young Euphorbia x martinii plants, whose dark winter foliage is handsomely tipped with red as they begin to push forth their first acid green flowers.
One or two of our hellebores have flowers shyly hanging down to the dark earth; they reward closer inspection with a glimpse of maroon speckles on ivory skirts. The first flower has also emerged on one of the small pots of Cyclamen coum ‘Maurice Dryden’, pretty in white and pink livery.
Primroses in shades of butter and cream dance through the borders, while the vivid pulmonarias are so bright that they almost seem to fluoresce in the sun, along with young dogwood stems that range in colour from the ruby stalk of Cornus alba varieties to the orange and yellow flames of Midwinter Fire.
The quieter shades of russet from last year’s geranium leaves and the nodding heads of Geum rivale are just as delightful as the stronger colours, while pure white snowdrops punctuate the dark earth.
The hottest colour in the garden is still undoubtedly yellow, although restricted mostly to the front garden where our early daffodils blaze along the fence. Bright bursts of egg-yolk yellow are just appearing along the back fence as Kerria japonica begins to open its buds, while some of the later daffodils around the garden are now beginning to show slender buds.