At this time of year blooms are still quite thin on the ground in my garden, and are often more promise than actual blooms, so I hope you will forgive me for making a lot out of a little!

Snowdrop Detail

Even our snowdrops are not so much drifts as a gentle speckling. Only planted over the last two years, in groups of tens rather than hundreds, the longed-for carpet will be many years in the making – and waiting.

Crocus 'Prins Claus' Buds

Crocus ‘Prins Claus’, which is white with brush strokes of purple on the outside of each petal, is currently still only represented by a couple of buds. There again, three days ago we didn’t even have that, so she could be flowering by the end of the week. Its that time of year, when you blink and suddenly everything has changed again.

Yellow Crocus

This yellow crocus (‘Gipsy Girl’? Not sure) is a case in point. Last Wednesday there was a single bloom. Now, more than a dozen are half-open with the same again pushing up leaves eager to join the party. I love the crinkles in the leaves, as if they were sat on after being ironed.

Hellebore Bud
Hellebore Bud

Most of the hellebores are still just new buds, looking faintly threatening and triffid-like. The one exception is ‘Tutu’, planted last week. She is doing that hellebore thing of hiding her beauty, or she thinks she is.

Hellebore Tutu

Luckily for me even the backs of her flowers are lovely, veined with dark pink.

Hellebore Tutu

And if forced to, I will happily crawl around in the fresh compost mulch to force her to give up her secrets.

Hellebore Tutu

The real star of the garden at the moment is Iris reticulata. I planted a handful of bulbs in a shallow pot, so that I could easily put it up on the garden table to be admired from the house. I love the deep, almost iridescent blue of the petals, with the flashes of egg-yolk yellow.

Iris Reticulata Flower

These diminutive delights are almost as lovely side-on. Something about the delicate petals reminds me of Magnolia stellata.

Iris Reticulata Side View

These flowers really repay a close look. The undersides of the petals are decorated with pale cream and black markings.

Iris Reticulata

This is much clearer on the emerging buds.

Iris Reticulata Buds

But for all the fancy markings, it is the delicacy of the petals themseleves, and the vibrancy of the colour, that really has me hooked.

Iris Reticulata Detail

And I promise you, I didn’t tweak the colour balance or saturation at all, that is simply what the camera “saw”. Wonderful.

For a life-enhancing, invigorating, blow away the winter blues tour of flowers blooming in gardens the world over visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who hosts Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

71 thoughts on “GBBD February 2011

  1. Hi Janet,

    Lovely photos and I don’t think anyone will begrudge you making a whole lot of out so little – I think we are all doing the same at this time of year!
    I totally agree with you on the blink and it’ll all change! From one day to the next there are new bulbs poking through and new flowers beginning to open, it’s so exciting walking round the garden at the moment.

    Hope you have a wonderful week, and manage to gets some work done on the allotment.

    1. Hi Liz, just saw your own lovely photos of Iris reticulata, so pretty. It is an exciting time of year, isn’t it. OH is somewhat bemused by the daily “did you see X is out now” conversations around the dinner table! Rain has been getting in the way of digging at the allotment, but I have seed potatoes chitting, so it is all getting very real suddenly. Have a great week, hope your garden continues to delight you.

  2. Lovely images, and you’re right the saturation of the colours almost seems unreal. I love the Iris, it sadly never flowers more than one year for me, I must plant some in a pot too as sometimes theya re so fleeting it is easy to miss them in the garden. Have a great week, Christina

    1. Hi Christina, I love planting them in pots, it does make them so much easier to see, though I am going to try these in the garden when they have finished flowering in the hope that they will thrive in one of the better drained areas. Hope you get more great gardening weather this week!

    1. Hi Karen. They are hard to beat at this time of year, and work beautifully in pots.

  3. Hi Janet, Your little looks like quite a lot to me! Agree with the others – fabulous reticulatas, amazing color. I might still your idea of potting them – great way to make sure you really see them!

    1. Hi Cyndy, I can thoroughly recommend the pots thing, every time I pass by the dining room I can see the pool of deep purple on the table outside encouraging me that Spring is just around the corner.

  4. Your blooms are stunning, but I am guessing it is your lovely macro shots making them show their best. The color blue is so intense and almost vibrates on the screen. Now that is a garden show stopper.

    1. Hi Donna, thank you for the compliment, it means a lot given the quality of your own photographs.

  5. I don’t need any convincing about the beauty of Iris Retuculata, but if I did your photos would do the biz. You should submit them to Fennel & Fern’s Garden Grab, so that more people can enjoy them.
    I see the Carol Klein influence in your planting of the Irises, don’t I? (the gravel, I mean).

    1. Hi Mark, thanks for the compliment, I still have the Fennel and Fern badge on my site but have given up submitting posts because I found I never checked the site myself and rarely got new traffic from it. I really should just take the badge off.

      I’m afraid you can’t blame Carol for the gravel on the pot, I have used gravel on pots of ornamentals to smarten them up and retain moisture for years, the big difference is I now cover seeds and seedlings with grit when I sow or I know they are going to sit around for ages. That is entirely due to Carol!

  6. Whatever flowers or buds you have now in the garden is a promise of the coming of spring…and more beautiful blooms. Happy Blooms Day!

  7. Whatever flowers or buds you have now in the garden is a promise of the coming of spring…and more beautiful blooms. Happy Blooms Day!

  8. Stunning photos, Janet! I don’t blame you at all for making such a fuss over these little blooms–I would, too. I would welcome any sign of bulbs in my garden, but it will be at least a month before they show up here. Your hellebores have to be my favorite–what delicate pink beauties!

    1. Hello Rose, hope my hellebores help make up for the fact that you still have a wait before Spring arrives in your own garden. I’m rather in love with ‘Tutu’ myself, all the more because I didn’t chose it, and it shows garden-sharing is working well so far.

  9. Oh thanks for sharing the hope of spring. I love that you willingly crawled around with the compost in order to show us the hellebores! A true gardener. :) I too, have some blue iris reticulata…I moved them last year so I could see them clearly from the window. Great idea to put them in a pot though! I may have to try that this coming fall.

    1. Hi Hanni, glad my muddy knees have brought others some pleasure! And do grow some iris in a pot or two, well worth it for how easily you can then appreciate them, with clean knees ;-)

  10. What stunning photos of earliest Spring flowers. That saturated blue of the Iris is breathtaking, but the hellebores really do it for me at the moment. Just beautiful, even if we have to grovel around to appreciate them!

    1. Hi Belinda, thanks for calling by. I love the hellebores too, they are invaluable at this time of year.

  11. aloha,

    what a beautiful collection of blooms you have today, it almost feels like spring in your garden. love the macro shots especially the first photo.

    thanks for sharing this today

    1. Hi Noel, yes, it really does feel as if Spring is lurking just around the corner now.

    1. Hi Liza, glad you think so, it really boosts my spirits when so many days are still dreary grey to see some flowers daring to show themselves.

  12. Happy GBBD, Janet! I agree with Liz, enjoy what you have there. I’ve only one snowdrop bell and a few hellebore buds. You are a little ahead of me here. Love the little Iris – I really must pot up some for next year.

    Think I have that yellow/gold crocus too. don’t know it’s name. Looking forward to see crocus blooms in my garden again – they are mysteriously late/missing this year ;-o

    1. Hi Shirl, hope your crocus stop sulking and make an appearance soon.

  13. What a wonderful treat to see all these spring beauties. I love the shot looking up into the pink hellebores. Gorgeous!

    1. Hi Jennifer, thanks for coming by. Hellebores don’t make it easy for us do they!

  14. Beautiful photos Janet. I like the structure of the Iris reticulata and the contrast of the yellow and blue —beautiful.

    1. Hi Janet, glad you like the iris, they are one of my favourite Spring flowers, so delicate in size and shape and yet so punchy with colour.

  15. You took my breath away, too, with this post! I feel like I’m cheating lately showing last year’s plants, but I was so tired of blogging about snow. It’s melting fast though–hopefully I can participate in GBBD next month! Truly amazing photography, Janet!

    1. Thanks you for the lovely compliment, glad to hear the snow is melting. Bet you will have lots of lovely things to show us all by next month.

  16. I really like the pics of the crocus. The hellebores as well. It’s interesting to see what the first blooms are in other climates and how they are often my favorite flowers.

    1. Hi Brad, my favourite thing about Bloom Day is being able to see what is flowering in wildly different places across the planet. So much variation!

  17. Janet – I love your plants! (and envy you, that your spring season has started!) We are still in ‘snow melt’ – much of our 22 inches of snow (from the blizzard 2 wks ago) is gone, thank goodness.

    1. Hi Shyrlene, glad to hear your snow is gradually melting, hope you don’t get any flooding damage. No doubt Spring will have well and truly arrived for you by next GBBD.

  18. Winter is drawing to an end it looks like! The bulbs are a great shock of color and exciting forms. The hellebores look so delicate by contrast. They grow here, but it seems that almost nobody plants them. Thanks for the opportunity to view them up close!

    1. Hello James, yes I think winter is well and truly on its way out! I’m surprised no one plants hellebores where you are, they are such tough plants with such beautiful and long-flowering blooms. I wouldn’t be without them!

  19. I’m new to GBBD–and I’m so delighted I played along! It’s lovely to see what’s blooming in others’ gardens. The iris reticulata is stunning–I have it (somewhere) in my front bed, but I love it in the pots–must steal that idea! Your photography is breathtaking–I especially love the lighting of the hellebores in your shot from underneath. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Julie, glad you joined GBBD, it is such fun seeing all the different things people have blooming in their gardens. Thanks for popping over and leaving such a lovely comment.

  20. I love irises and seeing the first of our dwarf irises emerge last week was cheering.
    I’d like to create a snow drop bed for next year – are they easy to grow? Do you plant them around the same time as normal spring bulbs, in Nov/Dec?

    1. Hi Nic, I’m new to snowdrops, the conventional wisdom is that it is best to plant them “in the green”, i.e. after flowering but when still in leaf, although I recently read that actually they don’t like root disturbance and so it is better to move/plant them when dormant in Autumn. We saved money and planted bulbs in October, and have had mixed success. Some have come back well the second year, but the ones we planted under the Magnolia have sulked, and this year we only have one – we had about a dozen last year. Good luck with creating a snowdrop bed, the sight of a complete drift of them is truly wonderful.

  21. I love all of your late winter bloomers. It’s true that this time of year things seem to change in a blink of an eye, I love seeing what’s happened practically overnight when I walk through the garden.

    1. Hi Catherine, me too, it always astounds me how quickly things grow at this time of year.

  22. Janet, of all the bulbs I’ve seen yesterday, it’s the Iris I’m most enamoured with, way above Galanthus and Hellebores!

    It made me smile that you featured it on your post. In a few years time you’ll have your Galanthus carpet, and might get some unusual ones naturally popping up in your garden, and have Galanthophiles begging you for them :)

    1. I love the idea of galanthophiles beating a path to my door for my rare specimens! I can dream… Glad you love the iris, they are my favourite too, though hellebores are invaluable for flowering for a long time while I am waiting for everything else to get going.

  23. Hi Janet. Happy GBBD! I am new here and just came over to visit your post and how lovely it is. Beautiful photography and the colors are vibrant! Thank you for sharing such wonderful blooms on this cold winter day. I am looking forward to more!

    1. Hi Lee, welcome to GBBD, and thank you for dropping by. Hopefully there will be more showing next month, but in the mean time I am grateful for some splashes of colour amidst the grey.

  24. I love the vision of you happily crawling around in the compost hoping for her to give up her vision!! Beautiful sentiment to go along with your beautiful images!

  25. I love seeing the snowdrops and crocuses – takes me back home. I can almost smell the cold mornings. The hellebore photo is great – very translucent and light filled. And I love those irises – I’m glad you showed a lot of photos of them. The first one reminded me of our California native Douglas iris, seen from above. What color! What part of the UK are you gardening in?

    1. Hi there, thanks for dropping by. I just looked up the Douglas iris, intriguingly similar, I think the difference is in the centers? I garden in South West England, just north of Bristol on the edge of the Cotswolds.

      1. You might want to look up Pacific Coast Iris – they are very attractive hybrids of vs native irises, and might well grow nicely in your area. My older daughter and family live in Paignton, so when I visit the UK that’s where I go these days. Cotswolds are lovely – so many lovely parts of the UK, many people don’t realize!

        1. I really liked the look of them on the web, so yes, well worth looking in to. Thanks for the pointer!

  26. I am glad that you persuaded ‘Tutu’ to reveal her oh so pretty petticoat. The irises are glorious Janet.

    1. Hi Anna, it was worth the muddy knees to look under Tutu’s skirts, so to speak – at least no such gymnastics are required to admire the irises!

  27. Hi Janet, Amongst your early blooms Iris Reticulata is also my favourite although it does just last the one year in our garden. Hints of Spring are just starting to show up north.

    1. Hi Alistair, glad to hear that Spring is threatening to make an appearance up your way. I’m going to give the iris a go in the border but am not holding out too much hope. Would be lovely if they thrived though – will definitely grow some in a pot again next year.

  28. Not one crocus here yet. The snow drops are just up and the hellebores will be very soon. My Iris reticulata bloomed late last fall for some reason.

    1. Hi Les, thanks for dropping by. Strange to have the iris bloom then! Hope your crocus make an appearance soon, they always signal that Spring is really on its way to me.

  29. I just found your blog and I am so glad I did. Your photos are lovely. The amazing blue of the Iris is out of this world! I look forward to watching your garden grow :)

    1. Hi Jennifer, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’m looking forward to some growth too, I’m getting a little tired of bare ground!

    1. Hi Denine, thanks for stopping by, hope NY frees itself from winter’s grip soon.

  30. Wonderful pictures! The only thing flowering in my garden at the moment is daisy and a single snow drop in a tub – which might have a friend soon!

    Nice to see spring via your garden :)

    1. Hi Fay, glad to be of service! We have a lone snowdrop under our Magnolia – I think the rest have been eaten :-(

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