February is such a frustrating month. It teases us with glimpses of Spring only for the weather to invariably be awful and prevent us from getting outside much to enjoy them. February 2020 has been no exception meaning the main view of the garden has been this …
Still, in the brief intervals of faintly acceptable conditions I’ve managed to cobble together some images of our small garden this month.
Our Tiny Garden
The garden still looks fairly minimalist, not least because I have cut back some of the previous season’s growth, but there is now the occasional splash of colour if you look closely.
February 2020 has been the month of storms: first Ciara, then Dennis, and finally to round it off, Jorge (the Spanish Met Office got to it before us). Although Chester is in something of a micro-climate and so we have certainly not seen the worst of it, it has still been a pretty grim phase. Happily, we had most of garden fence replaced a couple of years back with something rather more robust than the previous iteration which came down more than once before we gave up and called in the experts.
I tried to take a picture that would somehow capture the gale force winds that have been prevalent in the past few weeks but nothing really worked, so the above moody skies and wet paving serve to illustrate.
February has seen the emergence of the first wave of Spring bulbs that I planted during Autumn 2019, acting as the vanguard for restoring colour to the garden. I planted them in small groups around the garden with a view to having waves of colour popping up throughout the Spring. If I’m honest I am wondering whether clumping all the bulbs of each variety together in one place may have given more impact. Still, it’s nice to see them pushing through, regardless.
I absolutely love Hellebores. Such a welcome sight in late winter with their incredibly long-lasting flowers in subtle shades of pink and purple (or green). I split some existing plants last year and redistributed them around the garden and during February they have all begun their beautiful display. With their often nodding heads it’s actually difficult to get a decent photo of them, particularly in the largely overcast conditions of the past month, but occasionally one has stood to attention and given us a salute.
Flowering Shrubs and Perennials
The buds of January just about started to give way to the flowers of February on some shrubs and perennials late in the month. I am pleased with the Euphorbia that I rescued from a sales bench and split to distribute through the shadiest part of the garden. This has now started to reward me with the emergence of its strange lime green flowers which I always think look a bit like Martians on their tall stems.
The dark red buds of Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ have begun to burst into tiny white stars which I know will also reward us with a gorgeous fragrance in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the clusters of bell-shaped flowers on the Pieris have also just begun to emerge. Next month it will be positively dripping with them.
Shoots of Many Colours
Elsewhere many plants which dropped their leaves or died back completely over Winter have begun to show signs of life. The red and gold of Spirea japonica ‘Gold Mound’ on a tangle of unwieldy stems which I have since pruned back quite hard with a view to encouraging it to flourish again this summer. In the herb planter the stout purplish shoots of mint have begun popping up and will doubtless have gathered themselves into a dense thicket before we know it.
A little more advanced is the verdant green foliage of Aquilegia now bouncing up with enthusiasm before its more delicate flowers join us in Spring. Meanwhile numerous shoots of Periwinkle with the promise of purple flowers are marauding through the shadier bed.
Having cut back the hollow stems of Sedum I thought I would try using them as a makeshift bug house by stacking up short lengths in a gap in the fencing next to the house. I’m not quite sure how effective this might be, but it’s re-using redundant material so there’s little to lose by trying. I’ll keep a close eye on them and see if we get any bees or other pollinators nesting there.
Meanwhile, the birds continue to take advantage of the food we provide. Opportunities to try and capture shots of them, and other garden visitors such as Grey Squirrels, have been slightly undermined by the fact my zoom lens has been in for repair, not to mention the terrible weather. Nevertheless, the bold as brass Robin is never afraid of joining us in the garden, and the Blackbirds have been enjoying a few tasty morsels I’ve chucked out of the backdoor from time to time.
You can see what was happening in the garden in January here.
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