We have had some gloriously sunny days recently, with temperatures up to 14°C, a definite awareness of warmth from the sun, greenhouse vents opening and the sound of bees enjoying the benefits offered by these almost unseasonal days. On days like this, the Crocus tommasinianus shown above unbuttoned their shirts and bared their chests with little restraint, whilst this bee was absolutely smothered in pollen and moving so slowly as if drowning happily in the unexpected indulgence:
Looking back over the crocus you can see witch hazels Diane (foreground) and Spanish Spider are now at their peak, as are nearby Zuccariniana and Ruby Glow:
Witch hazel Arnold Promise has a reliable fragrance which is noticeable for several feet away, boosting the pleasure to be had from the native snowdrops in the woodland edge border. This border was created in 2002 and the first snowdrops, perhaps a couple of hundred, would have been planted within a year or two. I suspect my now regular division of them did not begin till I finished work, which was seven years ago, so it shows how quickly you can build up a colony – there must be thousands there now. The first picture was taken before the sun reached them:
Adding to the pleasure of a ramble through the woodland edge border are numerous hellebores, not at their peak yet, but nevertheless a joy to see. These are just a sample of them:
Even the new area under the holly tree that I began adding snowdrops to earlier this year is looking relatively established. To spread them further, they have been planted in groups of two or three bulbs rather than bigger clumps, but will bulk up quickly if they settle in happily.
Meanwhile, the specials in the snowdrop border are also bobbing about like boats on the beautiful briny sea, enjoying the glory days of February as much as everything else. I have assessed my losses, added a few more preciouses, and come to the conclusion that when the bed reaches maximum capacity as it may do in the next year or two then I may have to curtail my purchases, only buying to make up any losses to maintain that maximum. It’s just a thought, of course, and I don’t suppose I will promise never to buy another snowdrop! Of course one hopes not to lose any snowdrops at all and build every single bulb up into a healthy clump, but sadly that does not seem to be the case.
Some readers wonder just how different snowdrops can be, but amongst my collection (overlooked by more hellebores, all on the white spectrum) are fat ones and thin ones:
Tall ones and short ones:
Scruffy and neat ones:
Single and double ones:
White, ‘green’ and ‘yellow’ ones:
Ones with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in markings:
In the Coop, the benefits of keeping spring bulbs here rather than in a relatively warm house mean that blooms last so much longer. The basket of white hyacinths were gifted to me with just-opening buds five weeks ago, the red hippeastrum was featured on Wordless Wednesday a month ago, when it was just opening , and the pots of hyacinths were kept in the house until the buds emerged and then moved into the Coop around the same time, where they are beginning to colour up. Similarly, narcissi were moved here when shoots first emerged and buds are now swelling and ready to break out at any time. The reward for my patience, it seems, is having blooms that last for weeks.
Whilst writing this post it has occurred to me that it would be opportune to link to Chloris’ blog, as it is unlikely that February can get much better in the blooms department. Chloris encourages us to celebrate around ten of our best blooms each month, so mine are a little earlier than usual – do check out her post and others in due course. I may of course be surprised by some other star before the month is out, as I was yesterday when I discovered that my little clump of Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ is both thriving and blooming. I must track down her pretty near-relation ‘Katherine’s Gold’, shown in Karen’s blog recently, but in the meantime I shall continue to enjoy February and all its sunny delights.