Looking for colour in the February garden

I find the garden subdued this February. However, the cold and cloudy weather cannot stop the bulbs from pushing through.

The Hellebores have been well frosted this year.

But they are coming up in abundance now, untouched by the cold weather.

This is not the case of the anemones. This autumn I planted anemone bulbs expecting them to flower in the late spring. In fact, they started to flower in December but the cold and frost soon damages their petals. This has not bothered the bees who have little regard for the aesthetic qualities of the flowers they visit. Can you see the black pollen the bee has gathered from the anemone?

I am still disappointed with my Chimonanthus praecox. It’s common name is wintersweet because of its perfume but it needs to be planted in a sunny position to enjoy this wonderful perfume on sunny days. We have not had many of those days this year and, despite the plant being hardy, the flower are damaged by the rain and frost.

This year, more than ever, I have been grateful to my Choisia “Sundance” for bringing light into the garden.

Likewise, my willows (Salix alba “Chermesina”) light up the back garden.

I have still left the old flowerheads of some of my sedum in places but I will have to cut them soon as there are shoots of the new plant already pushing through.

I quickly took a photograph to show the garden with a blue sky yesterday. There have been too few bright days recently and we are back to totally gray skies again today.

I am glad we decided to insulate the beehives again this year. I am not convinced that modern, conventional beehives offer the bees sufficient protection from the cold.

Our girls are off out of the hive, as soon as there is sunshine and the temperatures allows it. Some seem glad to just spread their wings in flight but others are busy bringing in pollen and nectar.

15 thoughts on “Looking for colour in the February garden

  1. Those willows are so cool! Pollarding and coppicing are so vilified here. I never recommend it only because I know that arborists who are willing or able to perform the technique are so very rare. We coppice a few red twig willows here so that they do not get overgrown, but I know that my colleagues would not approve. I will eventually coppice another variety of the same species because I want to grow it in my own garden, but do not want to give it much space. (I brought it from Nevada, and it is notably distinct from the native sort, with more orangish bark.) I am considering pollarding a ‘golden’ weeping willow, just to see what it does. Weeping willows are so appealing in their natural form that I do not want to tamper with one. However, there are a few copies of it out there that we do not have space for in the marshy portions of the landscapes. I think that it could be appealing with pollarding or coppicing as well, producing fountains of arching yellow stems.

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    1. The willows are very useful for giving an area privacy in the summer when it is needed and leaving the garden open in the winter. It would be interesting coppicing a weeping willow. They grow quickly so should be amenable to being trained into the form you would like. I like trees with interesting barks but I like too many trees to have them all in my garden! Amelia

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      1. Yes, the weeping willows would look . . . weird. That is partly why I want to try them; so that I can see how they respond. Fortunately, willows are sort of ‘disposable’. I know that it is impolite to talk about trees like that, but I can grow them as easily as I can grow zonal geraniums.

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  2. Your photograph of the wintersweet is stunning, and you captured the bee harvesting pollen in the anemone quite well. I am impressed by the number of hives you keep. The willows’ colorful bark does brighten the garden. I hope to get some native red twig dogwoods planted here soon to add some winter color.

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    1. I bought these from Farmer Gracy online and they were called Galilee Pastel Mix but they do not say exactly that they are coronaria. I put some in a big pot and other in the soil. The soil ones actually flowered first. They look as if they are just starting so I will probably post more photographs if they keep going. Amelia

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  3. Some nice highlights Amelia, even though we can’t expect too much from February. Gorgeous pics of the wintersweet and anemone. I do like your willows too, such a lovely colour and a nice shape too.

    My neighbour keeps bees on her shed roof and she has insulated one hive with thick black plastic sheeting, whatever you have used is much easier on the eye. What material is it that you’ve got? I might try to mention it to her…subtle 😉

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    1. It is a thin insulation you can buy by the metre. We were told it was the sort of insulation you use to insulate garage doors (?). Anyway we save it and put it on again and it seems to keep quite well. It makes me feel I’ve tucked them up with a blanket but it is not just in my mind some beekeepers recommend it. Amelia

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  4. Your willows are such a beautiful focal point in the winter garden! We have also had so much grey this winter, but blue skies today brought out my witch hazel flowers. No bulbs yet though and the hellebores are late too, so no bees yet either. Your anemone look so pretty!

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