Diary February 18th...the mild wet weather continues.
The days rain finally was over and the watery sun eventually emerged bringing a warm glow. A late afternoon stroll with our two little dogs, was a joy. We have Narcissus Rjnveld's Early Sensation just starting to flower, along with Narcissus New Dawn , snowdrops, masses of aconites, soft green Hellebore foetidus, beautiful white, pink and darkest deep maroon blooms of Helleborus orientalis (all eaten last year), other species hellebores small and great, patches of wild primroses and violets, super fragrant winter honeysuckle, scented sarcococca, viburnum bodnatense, viburnum tinus, catkins emerging on the hazels, gleaming stems on the willows and cornus, peeling barks on the various eucalypts, white cockburnianus, avenues of white stemmed birches as well as the weeping birches, coloured stems on the bamboo, clipped yews, clipped box, russet hedges of beech and hornbeam, frilly ferns, flat bergenia, coloured silver and gold variegated euonymus, very many ivies both arrow shaped, crinkly edged, small leaves and large leaves forms....the list goes on and on. Oh I have not even mentioned the pale thin grass in the Monet borders. But the show stopper was the weeping beech caught in the pale sunshine with its thousand of rain drops poised at every elongated bud...it was like a brilliant light show. If only we can take the time to look, such treasures can be discovered.
Discovery and adventure are such important aspects of garden life.
The Winter Garden at Stevington is a wonderful surprise of colourful stems, stands of gleaming white birches, intricate patterns on the eucalyptus trunks, large sweeps of burnished grasses, seedheads, and last but not least, the winter bulbs. Though I have to admit that badgers, voles, mice, squirrels or something else has diminshed my snowdrops in the winter walk. However, aconites, and very early daffodils seem immune thank goodness.
There are cheery banks of aconites in the cottage garden and all beneath the lime trees where the boundary views look down over the Ouse meadows. Snowdrops line the snaking path in the Winter Walk with doubles and singles to greet the visitor like miniature beacons, lighting the way. They are joined by winter aconites and golden daffodils, both creating pools of colour from mid February and beyond.
We created this Winter Walk ten years ago with coloured cornus stems on one side (Cornus Winter Fire clearly earns its name!) and scented viburnums and sarcococca on the other. Up above, the filigree effect of weeping birches creates a wonderful silhouette against the winter sky, while twisted willow also plays its part.
In low winter sunlight each of these plants plays a special role with glistening red, salmon pink, green and purple stems. Hellebores, sedums and London pride provide evergreen anchor plants. Ark-Glass Lightcatchers add further to the scene; brilliantly coloured, exquisite in rain or sunshine. This is a maturing garden, dynamic in its format, with an interesting use of plant material and strong sense of season.
Elsewhere we have amazing barks, with various types of Eucalyptus and super white stemmed birches including Betula utilis var jaquemontii both forming avenues. The birches are backed by silvery white pampass whose plumes create a magical pattern between the birches. Another stand of white stemmed birches act as a welcome party on entering the drive, leading on to major planting of grasses which line the sweeping bend up to the house. Their winter burnished gold colouring matches the warm stone house.
The Hepworth garden provides an exciting link between the birch avenue and the winter walk, with its mass of seedheads, swaying miscanthus, dainty panicums and pennisetums, and colourful sesleria.
The grasses in the Hokusai garden create another super winter picture with their warm golden tones and swaying seedheads. The grasses in the Monet borders are also a joy, especially on a sunny day when the miscanthus becomes shining beacons (just like, now rare, 100watt lightbulbs, only solar powered!) all back lit to dramatic effect. They shimmer and gleam and for me are just like a wonderful impressionist painting.
Meanwhile the formal parterres and patterning of the French Garden look good whatever the time of year, whether in frost, snow or just green! Our winter picture is certainly varied and totally different to the other times of year. This is when you appreciate the barebones, the very structure of the garden!
All the summer tender pots are in the Solardome keeping dry and warm, hopefully to burst forth again next year.