Spring is gathering pace, the welcome sunshine illuminating drifts of early flowers throughout gardens.
While my days are usually focused indoors at the moment…
…I have been keen to get back out into the garden for more than a cursory stroll, and in the past week grabbed a couple of all-too-brief opportunities to get my hands dirty while the little one was being entertained by his daddy or granny – for part of the time he was wrapped up warm in his pram nearby, watching keenly as I pulled out handfuls of leaves from the long border and chopped down the decaying old stems to make way for the new shoots which are already emerging.
In the space of a few days this fat hellebore bud unfurled its pale speckled petals.
Across the garden, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Red Lady’ is blooming for the first time since my Mum gave it to me a couple of years ago as a young plant. Standing in the shade of the old birch tree, it has been hard to get a decent picture, but it is far lovelier than this snatched glimpse can convey.
The crocuses are in full sway now too, from the beautiful deep dark purple Crocus vernus ‘Negro Boy’ which return year after year (but seem sadly slow to bulk up, here at least)…
…to the far daintier Crocus chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’ whose white flowers are gently marked with purple on the outside…
and the brash and blowsy Crocus vernus ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ whose dazzling white flowers are barely touched with the faintest of purple stripes on their stems.
I love the deep vibrant orange of their stamens contrasting against the brilliant white, and these ones look particularly handsome against the newly emerging red foliage of Euphorbia martinii.
Another euphorbia plant makes a pleasing pairing with a self-sown primrose nearby.
With the leaves removed from the woodland end of the long border, the bare ground of winter is quickly being colonised by growing spring flowers: hellebores, primroses, pulmonaria, spears of daffodil foliage and other shoots.
Such a marvellous time of year to get down on hands and knees and be reunited with old friends just beginning to push up through the earth. Again I’m thrilled to see the red shoot of my tiny Paeonia mlokosewitschii, which has only so far produced a scant pair of plush leaves in the two years since I pushed the tiny dormant pot into the autumn ground. Its re-emergence is full of promise that perhaps this year it will start to establish and produce a less modest showing, hopefully to equal the lovely plant spotted last Easter in Bristol’s Botanic Gardens, resplendent with fat buds.