Pond Bed LHS

At this time of year, although bulbs and spring growth speckle the ground with colour, my garden is at its most bare. This is particularly true of the pond bed, as I finally cut back all the dead grass growth to allow the new growth to spring up unhindered. More to the point, it avoids the necessity of cutting back stem by stem because I’ve left it too long. I still tend to leave quite a bit of dead plant material around.


I like to leave the bugs somewhere to shelter from the cold snaps we are still prone to, and I love to watch the birds gathering nesting material.

Pond Bed RHS

The Magnolia bed is sprinkled with yellow from the crocuses and the dwarf narcissus ‘Téte-à-Téte’.

Magnolia Bed

But all these little sprinklings of jewel-like colour look a lot better with a different perspective.

Magnolia Bed Low View

Looking more closely, I can see welcome signs of healthy new buds on the hydrangea that I was worried about last month.

Hydrangea Bud

The bed is filling out nicely, although I am a little concerned about the Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’. It seemed to survive all the heavy frosts really well, but it is suddenly looking rather limp and exhausted. I also think it looks rather ugly since we pruned it hard back last year, and although if it does survive it stands a good chance of regaining a nice shape in a couple of years, I am feeling rather picky and cavalier. It wouldn’t take much for me to dig it out and replace it with something more exciting.

There are some mysteries, too. I wish I could remember what this is, planted behind the Veronicastrum: (Update: Thanks to Liz, Christina and Sylvia who all identified this as Anenome blanda, which makes perfect sense, and I know I’d thought about putting some here, just hadn’t realised I’d done it…)

Mystery Magnolia Bed Bud
Mystery Magnolia Bed Foliage

Over in the pond bed, alongside the crocuses I know I planted, and that I have the names for, various other bulbs are springing up. It seems that all the soil improvement I did last year is making things that previously only came up blind actually flower. Unfortunately I cannot for the life of me remember what any of them are. I know this is an allium, and its lovely, but I have no clue which one: (Another update – and how wrong was I, not an allium, though more controversy about this one. Liz and Christina reckon Chionodoxa luciliae alba, Syliva that it is Puschkinia. I think it is probably the former as the blue markings are only on the inside of the petals and the leaves are broad. I’ve added an extra photo showing a flower in detail below. I love that people are willing to help me out with these little mysteries!)

Mystery Allium

Chionodoxa luciliae alba detail

Over the coming year I am hoping to add lots of new plants to the pond border, giving it a longer season of interest. Faced with all the bare ground, it is hard to believe that it will become a mass of plants. It was around this time last year that I sowed the seed for the Kanutia macedonica that is now flourishing.

Kanutia macedonica

At this time of year everything seems to change so quickly. The tulip foliage that a couple of weeks ago was barely making its presence felt is now getting quite tall.

Tulip Growth

The Astrantia ‘Shaggy’ that I split last year is throwing up healthy new growth.

New growth on Astrantia 'Shaggy'

The self-sown hellebores that were triffid-like buds are now showing their true – and varied – colours.

Self-sown Hellebore

For me, though, this time is all about the crocus. I can’t get enough of them, so at the risk of boring everybody stupid with yet more photos, I am going to finish the post with some plant porn.

Drift of Crocus 'Blue Pearl'

Inside Crocus 'Blue Pearl'
Crocus 'Blue Pearl' Detail

Crocus 'Prins Claus'
Wet Crocus 'Prins Claus'

To nose around what other people’s gardens are looking like at the end of February, visit the Patient Gardener’s blog, who hosts the meme. Better yet, join in! Its a great way of developing an area of your garden and noting progress.

52 thoughts on “End of Month View: February 2011

  1. Hi,

    I think your first mystery plant is an anemone, and the second is either Scilla siberica or chinoxia (sp, can never quite remember it’s name!)

    Forgot to say in your pond post, that I love your ducks! Lol.

    Lovely photos, the crocuses and the hellebores are very pretty, I too have left loads of dead growth around, mainly for the insects and to help protect against the frosts we can still get. The birds don’t seem to gather it up though, even though I do have a large variety visiting :(

    1. Hi Liz. Thank you, I agree, I think the first mystery is an anemone, thing is, I don’t remember planting any, and thought I’d managed to keep all the bulb labels to aid later identification! I know I’d thought about growing a purply-blue anemone here because it fits with the colour scheme, guess I acted on it! A lovely surprise, anyway. I love the purplish tinge to the foliage. The others (planted under my rowan) are showing leaves but no flower buds yet.

      My ducks were part of my wedding present from my work colleagues. I love them, they stop be getting too serious or precious about the garden!

    1. I think you are two for two! Just been looking at photos, so yes, chionodaxa it is. No I just have to remember to mark them before they die back so that I don’t destroy them during the Great Spring Plant-up!

  2. Love the Crocus pics, especially the one of the deep purple and white ones. On the subject of birds gathering nesting material – for some reason the Magpies in my area seem to prefer live material rather than dead. I often see them sitting in my Cherry tree pulling off live twigs. Most annoying!
    Your ducks are going to be famous. Maybe they shuold be your “trademark” like my chillis?

    1. Hi Mark. Maybe different birds go for different nesting materials? Liz says the birds don’t use the dead material she leaves, but I find tits and blackbirds gathering my leftover grass stems most years. My ducks are too shy to become a trademark, and don’t have names, but as residents will definitely keep appearing…

  3. Lovely to see all the different paarts of your garden. I agree with Liz, I think the first mystery is an Anemone. Interestingly your tulips are much taller than mine; not all of mine are even through yet but most are. We seem to have been doing the same things in the garden this week, cutting back grasses, I hope I haven’t left it too late, some seemd to have living material where I’d cut – help! Christina

    1. Hi Christina. I noticed yesterday that the grasses out the front are showing new growth and I’ve not cut them back yet. Could be a job for today, I need an easy day gardening-wise due to the aches and pains from yesterday’s battle with couch grass up at the allotment… I’m sure its not too late – on a bad year I’ve left it as late as mid March, which makes for very fiddly work and the occasional “live” casualty, but it all works out OK in the end. Interesting about the tulips, perhaps it is because your night time temperature drops further than ours?

  4. You’ve got a lovely variation of colour amongst your crocus. I too have left lots of dead plant material around for the insects to overwinter in. I was amazed at the amount of ladybirds I came across when I was doing a small tidy up before winter, so I know it’s being used.

    1. Hi Jo, thanks. We did well last Autumn on the crocus front, we were all determined to get more Spring colour, so three separate members of the household scooped up bargain bags of bulbs at different times! The only problem is we’ve mislaid some of the labels – hence the anemone mystery, no idea which one it is.

  5. I think your first mystery bulb is Anemone blanda. This low growing Anemone is flowering now in my garden. The other one is Puschkinia, I had to look this up this morning because mine is just showing colour on the buds and I couldn’t remember the name! I can never get enough spring bulbs and your crocus remind me that I must plant some more – lots more.

    Best wishes Sylvia

    1. Hi Sylvia, and thank you for the plant identification help. I love garden bloggers! Definitely Anemone blanda, but I’m actually pretty sure that Liz and Christina are correct about the small white bulb, I think it must be Chionodoxa luciliae alba. The leaves and the stamens look right where as the Puschkinia has narrower leaves, the blue streaks are more marked and appear inside and outside the petals, and the stamens are held in a tight bunch. Thanks so much for taking the trouble to help me out! I really must keep better records…

      1. I don’t grow Chionodoxa luciliae alba but my Chionadoxa luciliae are later flowered than Pushkina. I am not convinced! But it doesn’t really matter they are lovely and hopefully will increase.

        Best wishes Sylvia

        1. Hi Sylvia, you are so right, all that matters is that they are beautiful little plants.

  6. Our tete a tet are just coming into flower too and the hellebores. Unfortunately the crocus have been battered to within an inch of their lives

    1. Hi Sue, sorry to hear about your poor crocuses. I’ve had birds peck some of the yellow ones to bits but the rest are surviving amazingly well so far. Glad your daffs are performing, always such a welcome sight.

  7. You have so many pretty blooms for the end of the month show. Here they are all still snow covered unfortunately. You found a little sleepy bug! I am amazed at all the places the bees are buzzing in February. Spring is coming are your garden says with those happy daffodils. I really like your last image though, so pretty and very spring-like.

    1. Hi Donna, I agree, the last pic does rather sum up Spring – frequently wet! I’m excited about the ladybirds, I’ve never noticed so many, I hope it is because I have been growing more things to keep them happy. I keep saying “hope your snow leaves soon” but given your location, I am guessing it could be a while. Thank goodness for your lovely office and greenhouse.

  8. Janet, what absolutely lovely photographs. New little buds and green leaves coming through are a constant source of excitment and joy. I also took a photo of a ladybird, its on my Sunday blog post. Yours is beautiful! Well done. Keep them coming, very interesting to see how others are getting on.

    Regards Ronnie

  9. Love the plant porn…I too love my crocuses and hope as the rain falls and the snow melts we will see them soon…although they don’t last long if the voles have their say…I have to be quick with the pics…

    1. Hi Donna. I had some new plant porn in the shape of a catalogue pop through my letterbox earlier. I haven’t dared open it… I hope the voles have all gone on an extended holiday and you get lots of crocuses and time to enjoy them.

  10. such lovely bulbs, I love the ‘plant porn’ at the end. One thing I keep forgetting is that spring comes with the chore of finding out what plants did and didn’t survive. It looks like so far you’ve done quite well keeping your plants happy through the winter.

    1. Hi Marguerite, I don’t think I can take any credit for the survivors – I only planted tough little doers that would cope with the conditions, too many past failures experimenting with borderline hardiness or bulbs that require good drainage. I do wish I could grow snakes head fritlillaries though.

  11. I’m with Liz and Christine on the second mystery plant. Thanks for joining in again this month. I love your crocus photos as I can imagine you had to really get down on your hands and knees to take them!

    1. Hi Helen – you’re not wrong! But I did finally have a brainwave – I found the knee pads we bought when we were laying new wooden flooring downstairs. Perfect for grovelling around on the ground trying to get portraits of Spring bulbs.

  12. I’ve just stumbled on the EOMVs, and they’re wonderful – very encouraging and totally fascinating. I’m sure you’re right with the chionodoxa – I’ve been out and stared at mine (which I planted rather than inherited, so I’ve kept a note), and they look exactly the same.

    And phew — another crocus addict. Yours are absolutely beautiful, and remind me that i need to get more crocus shots right now. Thanks for taking what must have been quite awkward photographs, knee pads or no knee pads!

    1. Hi Kate, glad you stumbled by and left a comment! Wish I could claim I inherited the chionodoxa, I merely forgot about it due to it never actually getting around to flowering until now! Glad I am not alone in crocus worship. I plan to buy yet more for next year…

  13. From a relatively new fan of crocus, not bored here… more please ;-)

    Great photos from your garden, hope you haven’t lost your Pittisporum. Can’t remember the variety I had (silver/grey foliage) but sadly lost it to the winter of 2009/2010. I loved that one :-(

    Spotted a ladybird yesterday too. Love your pond area – that’s quite a space you have to plant there too. Looking forward to seeing it progress through the year. I’m trying to fit my new build in a corner/edge area… slowly ;-)

    1. Hi Shirl, glad you are a fellow crocus fan! There are bound to be more crocus pics, as there are two more varieties yet to bloom, I like to try to extend the season as much as possible. Fortunately the pond area is actually far from empty, just full of herbaceous perennials not yet awake. But I am excited about adding to it! Good to have you joining EOMV.

  14. Hi Janet, your garden is fairly starting to come to life. I recall you talking about your Hydrangea, lets hope it thrives. Pittosporums! we have had several varieties in the garden for a number of years now including the Tom Thumb, I really like them all. I have seen this happen before with several plants, coming through the Winter only to die off at the first sign of Spring sunshine. This winter has indeed finished off all of our Pittosporums.

    1. Hi Alistair, sorry to hear about your Pittosporums. Jury is out on ours. Plus I have mixed feelings anyway, a white aster would fit in that space perfectly, and provide us with a lovely view of flowers from the Dining Room and Kitchen late in the year…

  15. Enjoyed strolling round your end of the month views Janet – it certainly looks as if you have a lot of colour. Have still to spot a ladybird out for a stroll here ~ must be warmer down south :)

    1. Hi Anna, not sure this ladybird was strolling so much as dozing, though it probably is warmer here. Mind you, I am constantly surprised by the way some gardeners further north, e.g. Sheffield, have plants ahead of mine. We are actually quite high and exposed here, something I tend to forget.

  16. P.S Forgot to say that I lost a variegated pittisporum this winter :( Hope that yours does not turn out be a fatality.

    1. This pittosporum loss seems to be quite widespread! Sorry to hear about yours, does it leave a huge gap? Still, new planting opportunity…

  17. What happy crocuses. :) And are those rubber duckies that I spy in your pond???

    I’m very interested to see what your knautia does this year…I wintersowed some knautia seed, but am not familiar with it at all. I do love your dwarf narcissus too. I had some at our last garden, but haven’t picked up any for this garden yet.

    1. Hi Hanni, the knautia is one of my favourite plants, it flowered from late March all the way through to the end of September, and was mobbed by bees and hover flies. You can see something of what it did on my EOMV post from August 2010. And yes, they are indeed rubber ducks!

    1. Hi Claire, that does not sound encouraging! I had another look yesterday and it’s not looking promising. I may try digging it out a potting it up to see if it recovers. Shame, it is such a lovely plant.

  18. You’ve got lots of spring bulbs popping up which inspires me to plant some this fall. I’ve never relied much on bulbs as there aren’t that many that do well in our rocky/clay soils (what an oxymoron that is!) but I know daffodils will grow…all these beautiful pops of yellow in your garden have created a desire for some come next spring.

    1. Hi Cat. If its any comfort, I have heavy clay soil and the crocuses have all thrived. We declared last year the year of the bulb and planted loads, it has been so worthwhile. Look forward to seeing pops of yellow in your garden next year!

  19. I can’t get enough of your crocus too. I don’t get to enjoy them here. So do show more photos.

    1. Will do my best – if the weather ever allows me to get out with the camera!

  20. No need to apologize for the wealth of photos. Keep them coming! Did you find out if crown rot is the issue with your Hydrangea? I have one that is thriving and one that is struggling. The putzy one probably needs more sun, but any other suggestions. I’m a huge fan of Crocuses, but they don’t last very long here. Thanks for the eye candy!

    1. Always happy to supply eye candy ;-) The hydrangea seems to be doing OK, I think the pealing bark was just part of its normal habit, but I will be keeping a close eye. My crocuses don’t last long either, but I think that is part of the appeal. Mind you, when half of them fall over because the birds have been pecking at them I struggle to feel generous towards my feathered friends!

  21. We have a patch of purple crocus in the border in front of our house. I can’t tell you how cheering I find them on these cold, gray days. That “false spring” from last Thursday has well and truly disappeared.
    I had a 50th birthday lunch today, and I filled the house with yellow: vases of all kinds of daffs and narcissus, plus pussy willow and forsythia. LOVE my spring bulbs.

    1. What a glorious way to say hello to 50! We actually had some sun today – I’d forgotten what it looked like. Just as well we can stick some in a vase.

  22. Oh those crocus are lovely – I think I planted purple ones like that last autumn – I just can’t remember LOL……… I’ll just have to wait and see what appears.

    I wrote a post today on copyright – could you please check it out as some of the UK gardeners have had their blog post copied on another site without permission.

    1. Good luck with crocus watch – hope you get a lovely surprise!

      Thanks for the scraping heads up, the site seems to have been taken down now, I will look in to how to protect myself a little more.

  23. Love your photos of the crocus and other spring bulbs – I was interested to read that you have heavy clay soil as well. It doesn’t seem to be causing a problem here and your spring garden looks great. I’m looking forward to seeing how your pond border develops as well, and any additional plants you choose. Lovely springtime gardening anticipation!

    1. Hi Anne, glad you enjoyed the photos. I have potential new candidates for the pond border currently nestled in the greenhouse, jostling for a position. Auditions in a couple of weeks…

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