In the deep midwinter

Watery sunshine lights up the garden at the start of the new year.

On this mild midwinter’s day I find a few errant blooms, bravely struggling on long after closing time: The last violet buds of agapanthus trumpet towards the sky; A single bloom of cerise osteospermum is unsure whether it is safe to fully open; A determined mauve wallflower presses on with its endless display of do-or-die; whilst the first primrose arrives well ahead of the Easter party.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
– Henri Matisse


Ivy-Leaf Cyclamen: a Hardy, Autumn Variety

A friend of mine has just spent a small fortune filling a large border with the miniature bedding cyclamen that are in all the garden centres at this time of year. I agreed with her that they are great plants — covered in pink, white or crimson flowers for months on end… But (and this is the bit she did not know) only up to the first hard frost. At that point they turn to mush and… die. They won’t come back next year unless you get lucky with a very mild winter. She was rather disappointed when I told her. What she wanted was a hardy cyclamen. Something that was reliable and would bring pleasure year after year.

There are two hardy cyclamens: Cyclamen coum – which flowers in late winter and early spring, and C. hederifolium which flowers in the autumn. In my garden I have C. hederifolium — the Ivy-Leaved cyclamen — and it is very happy, quietly forming two small colonies in the woodland garden without any fuss at all. Continue reading

Lily-turf (liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’)

I have three clumps of lily-turf in one of my woodland beds in my permaculture mini-woodland. They have been there for well over five years, but have only ever produced a few sparse flower spikes each year, despite the evergreen foliage having clumped up nicely. So imagine my surprise and delight when they blessed me with a wonderful display this year. Continue reading