snowdrop fever

When I lived in Japan, one of my favourite customs was hanami.

snowdrop, gardening blog, cottage garden

Its literal translation is ‘flower viewing’. But the true definition should be ‘cherry blossom fever’. Daily forecasts in the media track a blossom-wave that spreads from south to north. And there is intense excitement as people try to predict the optimum date for picnics and parties under the flowering trees.

I’ve only recently noticed that we have our own version of hanami here, albeit quieter and slightly more British.

Snowdrop tours seem to be quite the thing in February. Maybe it’s because there are so few flowers around at this time of year, or perhaps people appreciate their apparent fragility combined with steely resilience. Whatever the reason, it’s good to get outside for a couple of hours and persuade ourselves that spring isn’t too far away.

in the green 

I’m no galanthophile, but I do like snowdrops. There were some in the garden when we moved here, but there’s always room for a few more. Apparently it’s best to plant them ‘in the green’ – that is, when the bulbs still have leaves rather than when they’re dry and dormant. It’s more expensive to buy them this way, but I was lucky enough to cadge some growing in my parents’ field last time I visited.

snow drops in the green, gardening blog, cottage garden

snowdrops in the green, courtesy of mum & dad (I didn’t even have to dig them up…)

I planted them out between showers on Sunday. A few went by the back door so we can see them as we come and go. But I also chose some spots across the garden that we can see from the house. Although they are small, the bright white flowers make quite an impact even from a distance.

snow drop witch hazel

I planted a few clumps around this witch hazel, my hope is that they will multiply and form drifts in time.

As with most things I do in the garden, I only thought to look for advice once they were planted. It seems it may have been better to wait until the foliage was dying down rather than transplanting them in full flower. I’m not sure they went in deep enough either. But I have faith in the little bulbs and I’m quite sure they will come back next year.

I’m now feeling tempted by some of these rarer varieties from Easton Walled Gardens. Perhaps I will turn into a galanthophile in my middle age.

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outside in: January (8/12)

Last spring we planted yellow roses either side of an arch that leads to M’s Wendy house and swings. It’s supposed to be a summer-autumn variety, but it’s still flowering away in this mild winter weather. I picked three buds last week.

yellow rose buds, gardening blog, cottage garden, golden showers

They fade to a paler primrose as they open.

yellow rose, gardening blog, cottage garden, golden showers

Whenever I look at them, I remember a good friend of mine who loved yellow roses. She died very suddenly when we were in our 20s, but I am quite sure she would have enjoyed their name, Golden Showers.

I had hoped to pick some hellebores for the house this month, but sadly all of their flowers are being devoured by some unknown pest just as they begin to open.

So I consoled myself with a small posy of snowdrops. It wasn’t until I brought them inside that I realised they have the sweetest honey-like scent.

Next time you see a snowdrop, crouch down and have a sniff.

snowdrops sunlight, gardening blog, cottage garden

freshly picked, and still splashed with mud

Outside-in charts my attempts to bring the garden into the house with haphazard English Freestyle flower arranging.

winter flowers

A bit of sun, and scarecrow building, got us out in the garden for a few hours today.

It’s a mess if I’m honest. Mostly because we decided against cutting back many of the border plants for the winter, thinking their stems would look pretty on frosty mornings. We’ve only had a couple of hard frosts so far, but lots of heavy rain. So we now have a sodden mass of tangled stalks.

But if you take the time to look, there are some winter beauties out there. Here are some of my favourites…

quince blossom, gardening blog

We planted a couple of quince alongside the garage last year. It’s a gloomy spot and we kept forgetting to water them over the summer. They survived our neglect, but now most of the blossoms are getting munched by some pest or other. This is one of the few that has escaped.

pink dawn vibernum, gardening blog

We have lots of mature viburnum around the garden, so I was surprised at first when Steve brought this one home last year. But with its flushed pink flowers, it will be one of our winter highlights once it’s established.

witch hazel, gardening blog

Witch hazel is a fantastic winter-flowering shrub and we want to make space for more in the garden. This one is Arnold Promise – it was a Christmas present for Steve, so has only been planted a couple of weeks.

snowdrops, gardening blog

One of the loveliest things we inherited with the garden was the spring bulbs. I have a particular soft-spot for the snowdrops, which were just coming into flower when we moved in on a freezing cold January day two years ago.