Short but Beautiful

His eyesight not being as it was, if the Golfer was reading this post (which he won’t be) he might think I was writing about myself πŸ™‚ but no, it happens to be the shortest day of the year today and what a beautiful day it is! More blue sky, sunshine and a temperatures again into double figures – hardly what we would expect a few days before Christmas in the UK. It is also one of those ‘extra’ days (well, the morning is), when things we normally do are not happening because of the aforesaid Christmas, thus making it a welcome gift of time and space and encouraging a more leisurely pace throughout the day.

Quality rambles round the garden have meant several forays to the species snowdrop border, checking lists and books, and an awareness that the annual snowdrop obsessiveness is creeping up on me, for which I apologise. The relative mildness of the last week or two has been relished by the winter and early spring stars, the snowdrops, hellebores and witch hazels, all of IMG_0852which are far more advanced than they were at this time last year. Checking the progress of the green spears of the former I was thrilled to find the first evidence of white flower, not after all on ‘Maidwell L’ but on one of the ‘unknowns’, established last season after consulting Gunter Waldorf’s book ‘Snowdrops’ that it had ‘applanate’ leaves and will therefore be one of my ‘nivalis’ ones (note the obsessive language…). Not only did my rambles provide this joy, but also the thrill of another emerging clump without a label, the result of rationalising the bed last year which must have left some bulbs in their old position. I think I can remember what was moved from there, but will have to compare clumps when both are in flower…..

Also in this border is Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Carol’, bursting with numerous white buds at ground level but hiding its light under a thick and extraordinarily bushy canopy of healthy green leaves….. I am sure that in previous years they have been equally shy and never braved the big wide world so….. do I cut the leaves…? Or leave them to grow the way they always have done, au naturel? I have never trimmed hellebore leaves other than odd damaged ones but know that many do, and it is really a rhetorical question, one I am posing to myself and which I will let you know the answer to later, maybe much later.


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16 Responses to Short but Beautiful

  1. Chloris says:

    It is such an exciting time when the snowdrops start appearing. In the summer I
    I can’t remember why I get so obsessed by them, but it happens every year. The birds seem to muddle the labels up so it is out with the book and endless examinations and discussions with fellow Galanthophiles, (or Anoraks as my husband calls us.) I cut the leaves off the Hellebores because it reduces the risk of botrytis and the flowers show up so much better.
    I love your blog,

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for your kind comments about the blog – and your empathy with the obsession! I think I have my labels sorted and with more permanence (I don’t think the birds have contributed to that issue here) now, and the map made such good sense. Fortunately I had kept a list of what I have bought so should be able to match up the unknowns. I look forward to sharing the seasonal obsession with you πŸ˜‰

  2. Pauline says:

    I too cut the hellebore leaves off Hellebores for the same reason as Chloris and also so that we can see any snowdrops planted nearby. Purple flowered hellebores especially get snowdrops beside them, and they wouldn’t be seen if the leaves stayed in place.

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, that seems to be the general recommendation, but it’s strange how these leaves are really bushy and healthy and tightly packed – unlike any of my others. I may wait and see how tall the stems grow before I decide…

  3. Christina says:

    It seems early for the snow drops especially as your autumn has been so mild. I’m in the UK and the mornings are as you describe but it is bitterly cold and the rain in the afternoons has made it seem colder because of the damp.

    • Cathy says:

      We had rain later today too, Christina. I wonder where in the UK you are and if you will still be here for Christmas…. Hope any travelling is OK. My species snowdrops always seem to be at least a month earlier than the ‘ordinary’ ones, although it’s only since I started the blog that I have kept any record of this.

  4. Annette says:

    Smashing weather here too and isn’t it great that the days will be getting longer again? ! I quite like the idea of having a Helleborus Christmas Carol and look forward to hearing its song on your blog. πŸ™‚

  5. Anna says:

    No need to apologise for that “snowdrop obsessiveness” Cathy – you are amongst good friends πŸ™‚ Wonder what that unknown will turn out to be – do tell!

  6. Enjoy your snowdrops. Blessings, Natalie πŸ™‚

  7. wellywoman says:

    I got very excited yesterday when I spotted the first signs of snowdrops pushing through. It has been so mild and today is incredibly stormy. A day for wrapping presents by the fire. As for hellebores, I wait until they start to flower and trim off some leaves so the flowers are more visible but I don’t take all the leaves away unless they look a bit tatty. Can’t wait to see them in flower again.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, that rush of excitement, I know it well – even though I might push it to the back of my mind for the rest of the year! It’s interesting about the hellebores as the others all seem to carry flowers above the leaves and I too would only trim any tatty leaves on these. It’s only the ‘Christmas Carol’ I have a dilemma with. I made another hellebore discovery yesterday which I shall write about soon… can I take the excitement?!

  8. Well at least he thinks you beautiful!! No sign of my snowdrops yet, just the common natives planted in the green last year. Am getting nervous. Will enjoy watching your snowdrop obsession finding expression in more and more posts over the coming weeks! I only trim tatty hellebore leaves too, I rally like the foliage, and the flowers always eventually make themselves visible.

    • Cathy says:

      Tee hee πŸ˜‰ The ‘common natives’ here are a little behind the specials but are showing some green tips in some parts of the woodland edge border – all much earlier than last year. Yes, I don’t really want to trim these hellebore leaves either – and found myself wondering if the plant is a little deeper in the ground than it should be, as the flowers don’t show any sign of rising above ground level at all

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