Early Flowering Companions

Snowdrops have been centre stage for some time now and beautiful though they are, there are lots of other flowers now blooming away, doing their best to attract the bees that are brave enough to venture out in our winter weather. The main colour that is showing at the moment is still such a lot of white, but now with touches of yellow, blue, purple and pink.

Woodland view


Eranthis hyemalis, or the winter aconite, starts flowering about the same time as the snowdrops. I don’t think they are very happy in my garden, I do have trouble keeping them going but they usually die out after a couple of years. I think they prefer a more alkaline soil than mine but I keep trying because they are such a lovely splash of yellow so early in the year.


What does my Mahonia “Charity” think it is doing, flowering now.It must have decided that it was cut short in the early winter when all the frost and snow arrived and has to make up for it now.Whatever the reason, it looks very pretty and I’m sure any passing bee will be very grateful !

Iris Pauline

When we made our scree bed where the previous people had their pond, we filled it in with all sorts of rubble and then covered that with a mixture of compost and grit, getting more and more gritty towards the surface. This is the only area in the garden which has fantastic drainage, so is kept for very special plants which need these conditions. The first bulbs to flower here are the gorgeous Iris reticulata, this one is “Pauline”, sorry, but I had to have it didn’t I !!

Iris George

This one is “George”, not such a deep purple, more blue.

Iris Edward

and this one is “Edward”, much more blue. These are the most beautiful little iris and are a wonderful splash of colour at this time of year.


Also flowering at the same time as the first snowdrops are the spring snowflakes, Leucojum vernum. They have such beautifully shaped flowers, just like Tiffany lampshades. These are beginning to seed themselves around the garden and are now popping up in unexpected places, which is lovely. The much taller Leucojum aestivum flowers later, but not much later, it will only be a couple of weeks until its buds open, lots to look forward to.

Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum has been out for some time now, getting better and  better as the weeks go by. More and more flowers are coming, there seems to be no end to the buds which are being formed, super little plants. These are also being spread around the garden, the seed gets distributed by the ants, they are doing a good job, better than I could !


Soon the predominant colour in the garden will change from white to yellow once the narcissus get into their stride, but at the moment this is the only one which is flowering. This is Narcissus “Rijnveld’s Early Sensation” which looks just like an ordinary yellow daffodil, but it flowers much earlier than its cousins, a lovely splash of yellow so early in the year.

Crocus tom

The only crocus that I have planted in the little woodland is the species Crocus tommasinianus and these are beginning to seed themselves around, but not aggresively and so far are not  a nuisance.On lighter soil I think that they can become a problem, but not here in our heavy soil.

Garrya elliptica

The Garrya eliptica bush that we have in the back garden now has its tassels fully elongated and will look good for the next month or so. This will get pruned after flowering as it flowers on wood produced the previous year, this will give it time to grow new shoots  ready for it to flower again next year.

Luzula sylvatica Aurea

Not flowering, but shining out brightly in the little woodland, is Luzula sylvatica “Aurea”. This never seems to diminish in colour, it is bright all year round and a good companion for whichever plants are flowering and also a good contrast for the hostas and ferns which are here later in the summer.

I think that I have said before, that the little woodland is one of my favourite places in this garden, there is so much going on for nearly the whole year, I think December is the only month when there is nothing flowering and I can’t say that for any other part of the garden. It is a very special place for me.

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