Below is the list of our favourite plants in the garden in the second half of February 2017. The idea of recording a dozen favourite plants in the garden every fortnight came to me in mid-2016, so the whole year won’t be completed until around May 2017. I don’t tend to repeat plants that have featured in the previous fortnight, so it’s an attempt to show how there is always something new in the garden to tempt us out, whatever the weather. In late February many of December’s, and January’s stalwarts are even better now, like early snowdrops, Cyclamen coum, Iris reticulata, Helleborus hybridus and all the early Crocus so do have a look at the last 3 Plant Palettes. But there are now waves of new flowers appearing quite regularly. Spring is on its way. At least that’s what all this new activity is telling us. The nadir of late November when flowers are few and far between seems a very long time ago.
1: Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’: Apparently one of the most widely planted daffodils, it’s early and survives medium term here, but like N. ‘Jet Fire’ has brighter green leaves and seems to fade after about 15 years. Apparently sterile flowers, or at least no seed set.
2: Narcissus obvallaris. The Tenby Daffodil:
A species daffodil native to this part of the world. It’s early, vigorous, attracts bumblebees occasionally and sets seed. But very variable from year to year in actual flower production.
3: Narcissus ‘Topolino’: Very similar to the native Narcissus pseudonarcissus, subsp pseudonarcissus, but a bit earlier and has a larger, squatter flower. Like the species, it’s fertile and sets lots of seed, but doesn’t seem to flower as reliably here, or bulk up in the same way.
4: Scilla mischtschenkoana: A lovely pale blue and very early Scilla, which emerges with flowers at ground level and then lengthens over several weeks. Honey bees are regular flower visitors, but whilst it slowly bulks up, I’m not sure if any viable seed forms. It’s also a target for any slugs, early on – much less of a problem in our garden in recent years.
5: Cardamine quinquefolia: A very pretty, and early, deciduous ephemeral which emerges rapidly in late February, flowers and then dies back completely by summer. It’s a wonderful plant for growing in deep shade beneath shrubs and trees. I can’t propagate it fast enough!
6: Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’: I think this is the correct cultivar name. It’s a rich blue, flowers early, and for a very long time, and the first emerged bumblebees love the flowers. Wonderful colour amongst snowdrops.
7: Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’
Always the first Pieris to open its flowers here, which are greatly appreciated by early bumble bees and honey bees. A lovely splash of pale pink to complement the glossy foliage, as it gradually matures into a larger shrub.
8: Galanthus ‘Sibbertoft Magnet’. An elegant, G. elwesii form with long arching pedicels and well proportioned flowers. Looks lovely from a distance.
9: Galanthus ‘Percy Picton’. A prolific and vigorous snowdrop mid-season G. plicatus hybrid snowdrop with long arching pedicels which has great impact en-masse. Sets some seed too.
10: Galanthus ‘Galadriel’. One of our very favourite mid to late snowdrops, originating from Beth Chatto’s garden, but liking our conditions and always attracting attention from our garden visitors.
11:Galanthus ‘Lady Elphinstone’. An old, double yellow snowdrop, which takes a while to settle down, and is more yellow some years than others, but a distinctive and lovely flower.
12: Leucojum vernum. A lovely, short and early form of the snowflake, which creates great interest and impact with its larger flowers opening at the same time as later snowdrops. The flowers don’t last as long, being pollinated by our honey bees, but the glossy mid-green foliage makes for a great complement to more glaucous snowdrop leaves. We have a yellow spotted form of similar height which we’re slowly bulking up.