A February Springtime


Helleborus foetidus

There has been little sign of life at the Priory recently; other than me that is (a surly and dishevelled figure, crouched beneath a dripping conifer and shaking a fist at the rain-laden clouds).


And then the most extraordinary thing happened.  The ‘February Gold’ daffs I planted in 2008 flowered.  IN FEBRUARY!


In the past they’ve always kept me waiting until March.  Always.  How very pleasing that they have finally done as they should.


On a rare sunny morning even a slightly nibbled primrose was gloriously perfect.


There were no cyclamen when I started work at the Priory – which for an old, established garden I thought odd and remiss.


I have since planted a few dozen C. coum and they have flourished.  Gosh, but I’m pleased that I did.


If only for when the low winter sun ignites them.


The Priory did boast some snowdrops (before me) but not very many.  I have added more to this long, extended clump along the base of an outbuilding.


And also used them in planting squares under the rose tunnel.


A couple of years ago a friend gave me a big trug-bucket full of snowdrops-in-the-green.  There were so many I could barely lift it.  What a precious, generous gift and I spent a happy day or two of profligate planting.


I have introduced them to the meadow and I am hoping one day for a white, galanthus carpet beneath the ash and oak.


Won’t that be a picture?

DSM_9596Some crocuses are up – this is C. tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant.’   It isn’t really a giant and it isn’t ruby at all.  Plant naming isn’t what it was.


But they are rather lovely nonetheless.  They spread slowly: the four flowers in the foreground have come from one bulb planted just over three years ago.


These are C. ‘Romance.’  (I forgot to go back and take a photo after the sun opened the petals.  Sorry).


Here is a crocus which I have written of before and it remains a favourite.  Throbbing with pent-up intent this is C. ‘Pickwick.’


And ta-daah, it opens.  What a beauty; what a show-off.


As with cyclamen, so with crocuses: there were none at the Priory.  Or so I thought.  A couple of days ago at the base of a Robinia pseudoacacia a splash of yellow caught my eye.


I don’t know the variety as I certainly didn’t plant them and I’m pretty sure they haven’t appeared before.  Have they?  I suppose, on reflection, they must have; crocuses don’t just transmute from grass or nettle.  Do they?  Very odd, very baffling.  (A gold star to Stacy who has suggested this crocus might be C. chrysanthus ‘Gypsy Girl.’  Certainly looks like it).


But I am jolly pleased that they have arrived from where ever it is they came from.


A variety that I did plant is C. Snowbunting. 


On rough grass by the greenhouses and above the rest of the garden, Snowbunting and Pickwick are the first of several varieties to appear.  C. ancyrensis ‘Golden Bunch,’ C. chrysanthus ‘Prince Claus’ and C. sieberi ‘Firefly’ are all still to come.

I’m trembling with the excitement of all that expectation, aren’t you?  Hold onto your hat – the garden is under way.

(The front of my jumper and elbows got very wet as I lay down on dewy grass to get this last photo.  Just saying).

54 thoughts on “A February Springtime

  1. A little bit of mud and damp, well you’ve got to suffer for your art, David. 😉 My ‘February Gold’ have only just snuck into February. I thought the mild winter would have meant they flowered earlier, but no. It does make me wonder why they weren’t called ‘March Gold’ but as you say plant naming isn’t the most reliable of things. It is all so exciting though. I love this time of year – all of us gardeners keen and eager to get growing. Glorious images to fill us all with the sense of spring. 🙂 Louise


    • Hi Louise, I suspect we’re all the more grateful for flowers (even if it is still only early March) because this wet, warm winter has seemed so interminable. Next year I suppose my ‘Feb Gold’ will revert to being ‘March Gold’ and all will be right with the world. Dave


  2. You’ve done some great work there, glad to see it all coming along nicely. I bet in another couple years your snowdrop sheets will be blanketing many areas! (with a few more cyclamen I bet). Love the photos, they look much nicer than snapshots of flooded meadows and woods.


  3. Lots of glorious colour. I have snowdrop envy, yours already ribbon and clump rather splendidly. Mine are oh-so-slowly beefing up just a little, though, and my Mum is offering me more in-the-green from her garden, which I’ll greedily snap up and poke in here and there. Ah, patience …


  4. I did enjoy seeing your spring flowers. It really perks me up when I see mine coming through. I had none when we came here and I have planted them in any flower beds that we have made. I would love to see them at the bottom of the garden but what happens when the grass grows? Do you just go over them with the mower?


    • I grow crocuses and daffs in areas of grass that I’m happy to let grow for a few a months, Amelia. Then I go over them with the mower or strimmer after the bulbs have died back – for daffs usually June or July. (Obviously this doesn’t work so well on a formal lawn). I like these patches of longer grass though; they are like little meadows and full of wildflowers – even orchids! Dave


  5. What a wealth of little treasures! I love the cyclamens, snowdrops and crocuses…time to shrink, as Beverley Nichols used to say, and at this time of year it’s my favourite passtime! We seem to have the same taste as for crocuses. Well done for February Gold for being true to their name 🙂


    • I would have happily bet anyone that FG would never flower any earlier than March at the Priory. Nice to be proved wrong. It is a fine time of year for little treasures isn’t it? D


  6. It must be very rewarding to reap the fruits of your labour and see so many improvements, I did wonder about your clothing as I scrolled through. Really lovely photos, definitely worth a muddy elbow or two.


  7. Dear Surly,
    you’e managed to cultivate Crocus, Cyclamen and Snowdrops, three of my all-time favourites – which favourites are not too commonly seen in this, my sun-bleached and blistered land. I love the squares of Snowdrops, btw, not something I’ve seen before…
    Yours, Grumpy.


    • I know there was a Grumpy and a Dopey and a Doc but a …. anyway, you have great taste with your three all-time favourites. But yes I can see that they may not necessarily do well in your climate Mr F, I mean Mr G. You’re just going to have to upsticks and move to Blightly. D, I mean S


  8. Love your photos of spring bulbs! I am just hoping that the sun comes out this afternoon as promised and that it isn’t too windy as I have a lovely bunch of dwarf irises I want to photograph while they are fresh and new.
    Hmmm – think I’ll use a groundsheet though!


    • Thanks Boys, it’s been a long time coming though of course it isn’t really spring yet. We may well get a cold blast or two yet. Especially as I’m about to go off walking! Dave


    • Well, Dan it is only remiss if you love cyclamen. But please rectify away – the world can’t have too many of them in my opinion. Hope you’re not too far behind us up there and that you soon get some more spring flowers. (The Priory sits in a frost pocket and so is a little behind the rest of Sussex). Dave


  9. Your drift of snowdrops is fantastic, what a generous person it was that gave you a trug full. Love the crocus seeding in the grass they look delightful like that. The plants all think that spring is on the way, I hope they’re right!


  10. Yay for a sunny day! I’ll join the chorus in thanking you for the wet jumper photo, Dave. I put my hand on a tiny cactus the other day (not in my garden), trying to get a shot of something or other. It (the cactus) was masquerading as a patch of dry grass. Not very fair, really. I almost (almost) prefer crocuses in bud to the ones in full bloom. The shapes are so incredibly elegant. From here on in, it’s one painfully exciting day after another. Enjoy!


  11. I never think to plant crocus in the grass usually confining them to pots – but I think it would be great to let them naturalise – it’s just the thought of all the planting that puts me off. They do look lovely though.


  12. Thank you “wet jumper man”! My snowdrops have been so gloriously strong this year – probably twice as many as last year and have been flowering their little heads off for over a month now, especially ‘Flore Pleno’. My Cyclamen haven’t done well at all though – one solitary flower in my little patch where there are usually about 20. I love that Crocus ‘Pickwick’ and haven’t come across it before – definitely added to my plant list – thanks. Vohn x


    • Hi Vohn, hmm … wonder why the cyclamen have done badly. Too wet do you think? Mine are in a raised bed and drain very well. Others which have been sitting in puddles for much of the winter haven’t done as well. D


  13. Glorious sweeps of crocuses and snowdrops, thank you for the wet jumper, well worth it – from my point of view… I love those square beds stuffed with snowdrops, what do you follow them with? I am newly in love with cyclamen coum, and long for great sweeping drifts. I’l settle for three plants, when they arrive, for now. Glorious time of year isn’t it. I like the slow ramping up, before the madness of full-on spring. Some dry weather would be nice right about now though, don’t you think?


    • The square beds just have Alchemilla mollis in them, Janet. I wanted something simple and something that didn’t need any care – the little beds already need to be edged which is a time consuming pain. The cyclamen are a real favourite of mine. They’re in a raised bed that I’m slowly bringing back into cultivation. (Sadly it mostly full of Spanish bluebells). Had a dry day yesterday which was marvellous – got loads of done! Wet again today – less so! D


  14. I do like your snowdrops en masse much nicer in my view to the individual specials. The crocus are fab too. I can’t wait for spring


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