Peltaria agliacea – (shieldwort, garlic cress)

No question, it has to be an edible this week as we all try with varying degrees of success to grow our own fruit and veg. It’s odd, and rather unhelpful, that garlic cress is very difficult to source, and this I just don’t understand as it’s an easy plant to propagate, easy to grow, very decorative in and out of flower, and edible … what more could you want?! Peltaria alliacea is a hardy perennial in the Brassica family. It is endemic to south eastern Europe but has been recorded as naturalised on the Isle of Skye. The decorative, purple flushed foliage emerges early in the year and the leaves, which have a garlicky mustard flavour, can be cooked...

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Corydalis solida subsp. solida ‘Beth Evans’

I was going to write about a dependable, evergreen, scented shrub but decided at the last minute that we might all need a bit of cheer. This fumitory (as they’re commonly known) ‘Beth Evans’ cuts the mustard and is equally dependable and also tough: a couple of years ago it was covered with snow one spring morning and reappeared quite unperturbed a few days later!  Corydalis ‘Beth Evans’ is an easy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial and has beautiful, ferny, grey-green foliage and tubular pink flowers with a white flash on the spur. It reaches about 25 cms in height and...

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Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ AGM

Loddon lily, summer snowflake It’s a bit of a misnomer this common name. Leucojum aestivumusually flowers in March or April, yet informally, it is called the summer snowflake. Furthermore, this year, which is far from normal climatically, it’s out in February. This clump forming, bulbous, hardy perennial is very easy going and tolerant of most situations. I wouldn’t plant it in a border because, as with daffodils, I’m not keen on all those leaves flopping about and smothering neighbouring emerging treasures. This is a plant for an informal setting, and preferably one that is cool and damp: pondside would be...

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Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

It’s not all about snowdrops and winter aconites in February. I just couldn’t let the month go by without giving these little beauties a mention.  Classic yes, and I do wish I’d planted more of them last autumn; it takes four months from planting to flower, you can’t ask for more than that. And what good value: fifty bulbs for less than the cost of two coffees and croissants! Through January you will be waiting and watching for the spiky narrow spears of foliage, then one day in February the flowers suddenly appear, they seem to arrive from nowhere: intensely...

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