Where would our gardens be without the brave warriors that show strength and colour in the coldest and most stormy times of the year? Where do they get their resilience? How they gladden the heart and allow us to dream of spring, or even summer.
My admiration goes to the spring bulbs, when in the depths of winter, no matter what the weather, they will peep above the earth and burst into wonderful blossom. Rain and wind, sometimes snow, do not deter them. At the moment snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses and iris are crowding the flower beds and pots. The small daffodils, mainly tête-à-tête, are the best survivors. When the taller daffodils come on they will not stand as well in the wind. Normally I cut very few daffodils for the house, I prefer to see them brightening up the garden, however, as soon as the tall daffodils are blown down I cut them and bring them indoors as the lovely flower heads are loved by slugs.
Wonderful performers are the Hellebores, when their old and worn leaves are removed their beautiful nodding flowers can be seen to perfection. They seed themselves happily in the flower beds, but the new plants need to be thinned out and placed elsewhere, or given to friends, to stop a complete takeover. Primroses are a delight too, we have deeply coloured ones that are very attractive, but for me the native primrose has no equal.
Lovely cyclamen produce their delicate flowers of white, pinks, and reds in the dullest of places under shrubs and in dark old corners, their pretty leaves are a joy in themselves. We are reminded of beautiful examples seen growing wild in Greece, their homeland, when we were on holiday last spring.
Heathers surpass themselves at this time of year, creating a sea of pink and providing food for bees foraging during warm spells. Red berried holly, ruscus and pyracantha also add joy to the winter garden and provide food for birds when it gets cold, by now most of the berries have been consumed by hungry blackbirds and thrushes.