It has to be hellebores!

I am not a fan of the sort of mild winter that slips almost imperceptibly into spring, so I am happy with this one! February means hellebores at their best, but I’m not going to get bogged down with too many different sorts here, for there are many, including some very interesting species. I’m going to stick with the lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) which has such a wide range of colour, (from nearly black through endless shades of wine red, pink, creamy yellow to white) and are among the most handsome and versatile of winter flowering plants. Their...

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Teucrium fruticans

I don’t really linger in the garden in February, but I do go round it every day whatever the weather, and love to notice all the subtle changes. The best time for this is in the early morning after a sharp frost: I never fail to be amazed by the transformations made by frost, and am reminded not to be overhasty in cutting down the stems of many perennials, grasses in particular. There is one plant which looks particularly good right now (quite unscathed by -6C a few days ago) and that is the shrubby germander, teucrium fruticans. Its...

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Chaenomeles x superba ‘Pink Lady’ AGM

Everyone is familiar with the ornamental quince. They are easy to grow, very hardy, can be left to grow freely or be trained tightly against a wall. They also come in many colours, some more familiar than others, and are tolerant of almost any soil type. What is not often pointed out is the ability of some of them to thrive in almost total shade and this particular one, ‘Pink Lady’ does just that, and it must be the earliest of them all. Ours started to flower in the middle of January and is very prolific. The tiny, dark...

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Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’ AGM syn. Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Straight off I need to state that my subject this week is not for gardeners who like to be in control, for it is a great self seeder, and is further helped on its way by blackbirds. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it invasive but thought I had better sound the alert! Interestingly, until I started to write this piece, I had no idea that it had earned the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the RHS. This tuberous perennial is summer dormant; its bold, spear-shaped leaves emerge in the autumn and are glossy deep green,...

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