February gardens dull…never!

For me, February means just one thing, making time to go to the little woodland at the back to see all the snowdrops that are flowering, no matter how cold it is. By the time we are half way through February, the wild single snowdrops have joined in with the doubles and ” specials “.  As well as the snowdrops there are lots of other flowers joining them by the second half of the month.

Snowdrops and crocus


As well as the crocus and hellebores, the narcissus are starting to flower.

By the ditch

This is the slope coming down to the ditch which is in between the back garden and the woodland. Before the house was built, this used to be farmland and the ditch was the drainage for the field.


Old ladies in the village tell me that when they were young, they used to enjoy riding their ponies in and out of all the trees, I hope the ponies enjoyed it as much as they did!


A view of the ditch with the bridge across. My planting doesn’t match up to the ditch at East Lambrook Manor which we saw the other day, but give me a few more years! Each time I plant bulbs, it seems I should multiply it by at least 100!

First Camellia

My first camellia to flower, all the others are covered in masses of lovely fat buds, but this one, being quite sheltered, is always the first to flower.

Woodland edge

The woodland edge border can be seen from the house and is a good indication of how all the snowdrops are doing further into the woodland.

RRight of archway to woodland

These plants are to the right of the archway into the woodland.

Looking back

Looking back from the bridge to the back garden.


The wild singles and doubles are adding to the scene which started off with just the “specials” just a few weeks ago.


Pretty little pale blue violets joining in with everything else. The silver washed fritillary butterfly uses violet leaves as food for its caterpillars so we have to put up with the leaves looking a bit chewed later in the year.


The first bit on the left when you enter the woodland needs a bit more structure to it. There was a bamboo that the previous people planted but a few years ago it died and we took it out.

Hamamellis Diane

I was still deciding what to plant in its place, when I saw a witch hazel at the garden centre the other day Hamamellis Diane,   I stood the pot in its space to see if it would look right and went back to the house. The sun was shining at the time and shining through all the flower petals, making it look as though the bush was on fire, yes, I think I have found the right place for it!

View of woodland

The summer snowflake in the lower right corner, is later flowering this year, much taller than the snowdrops, it seems very happy in my heavy clay and is now seeding around, which means that I can start new clumps off in other places.

Snakeshead fritillary

The left hand end of the woodland is always very damp and to start with I wondered why the bulbs I had planted weren’t happy here. Once I found that it never dries out, I planted a few Fritillaria meleagris, the snakeshead fritillary and have just scattered seed every year since, as they are obviously very happy. At the moment this area looks as though it is full of grass, but they are the snakesheads getting ready to wow me with their flowers in about a months time when the snowdrops will be almost finished.

Crocus tommasineanus

Crocus tommasineanus are seeding gently around, as is the grass, Millium effusum aureum, they go so well together, the colours complementing each other.

Crocus tommasineanus

Wonderful when the sun shines and the flowers open up for any passing bee brave enough to venture out in the cold.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Increasing into good clumps now are Narcissus pseudonarcissus, I think the clumps have reached a size now that needs attention, more splitting to do!

Snowdrops in the front

More snowdrops have been planted in the front garden under the red stemmed Cornus, these are the single and double wild nivalis.


These too are going to need splitting, to make more at the back of this border, I can see that I am going to have to spend an awful long time on my knees splitting all these bulbs, but in a couple of years it will all be worth while! My snowdrops start to flower around Christmas with a few special ones, as the weeks go by, more and more join in, then after February, special late ones take over . In all, a good three months enjoyment can be had from these little unassuming plants that tell us that spring isn’t far away.

Galanthus nivalis

I realise that we are incredibly lucky to have the small woodland included in the garden, but an interesting winter garden can be made under just one tree or 2 or 3 deciduous shrubs, just make sure you can see it from the windows in the house, then you can enjoy it without getting cold!

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18 Responses to February gardens dull…never!

  1. Cathy says:

    Pauline, I’m sure you can guess just how much I love all these photographs – this part of your garden resonates with me so much and I love everything about it. As you said, you were so lucky to have it included in your garden when you first came, but having created our woodland and woodland border from scratch I wholeheartedly agree with what you said at the end of the post – of course not everybody would have the opportunity to do so, but it’s surprising what you can achieve when you think ‘out of the box’. You have clearly found the right spot for ‘Diane’ – the effect of the sun shining on ‘Harry’ was something I have really been made aware of this year as he just GLOWS!

    • Pauline says:

      So glad you liked the photos Cathy, I think it was the little woodland that made me want to live here and it is certainly my favourite part of the garden. The snowdrops and other flowers look so pretty at the moment, just wish it wasn’t so cold and then I could enjoy them for longer. I must soon plant Diane and not leave her in her pot any longer than necessary!

  2. It is fun to see all my favorite plants in bloom in your garden before they peak in my garden. There was actually sun yesterday and the snowdrops, crocus, and winter aconite flowers opened—-so beautiful.

    • Pauline says:

      I am so envious of your sunshine Carolyn, here it is just very dull with freezing cold temperatures! A little bit of sunshine makes such a difference, especially to the crocus, the forecasters say we will get some sunshine towards the weekend, hope they are right! We can see lots of the snowdrops from the house, now that we are splitting them regularly we seem to have them in every shady border, which is lovely and just how I imagined it years ago.

  3. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    Lovely photos, just need some sun now don’t we??! I hear this weekend is due to be rather nice 🙂

    Isn’t it early for violets??? I’m sure it’s usually a while before they’re out? I’ll have to check mine, see if I can see any buds on them.

    • Pauline says:

      Sunshine would be wonderful Liz, the lunchtime forecast says sun should be coming, should we hold our breath?!
      I thought it was early for violets too, but I also have some pink ones out, the problem is, I can’t recall seeing these pale blue ones before, something has been going on that I don’t know anything about!

  4. Christina says:

    I am very envious of your woodland, and you have used it to very good result. It also makes me realise how restrictive it is not having cold weather before Christmas here as many of your plants need cold to set them flowering so that here ‘early’ plants often flower after the UK! For example my Tulips are only just poking their foliage through the soil. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      We are so lucky with our woodland Christina, its strange but my neighbours, where the woodland continues, have done nothing with it, just grass, brambles and nettles, which was how ours was when we arrived! We soon realised what an important part of the garden it was and I devoured book after book written about woodland gardening, especially the one written by Beth Chatto. My tulips are up about 3 or 4 inches, not sure if that is early for us or not.

  5. debsgarden says:

    Pauline, I did think of East Lambrook when I saw your first few photos! Your woodland is totally enchanting. I love the combination of bulbs you have chosen. I dream of doing something similar in my own garden.

    • Pauline says:

      East Lambrook has been such an inspiration Deb, it has taken me nearly 20 yrs planting just a few bulbs each year, but at last I think I may be getting there! Your woodland is far bigger than mine, it would take thousands of bulbs, but it would be wonderful with a carpet of small bulbs early in the year!

  6. Helen says:

    Your woodland garden does look lovely. I am amazed how much is already flowering. Here one small clump of snowdrops has emerged, only to be clobbered by all the snow and frost. It should be getting milder now, though, so hopefully things will start growing here as well. Is Devon consider a milder part of the UK?
    How are you Meconopsis doing? Have they started germinating?

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Helen, yes, we are in the SW corner of England, it is much milder than further north, also we are only about 500ft above sea level which does make a difference. I’m sure your snowdrops will be ok, they are used to the snow and frost where they originate in Turkey!
      My meconopsis seeds have just germinated, just a few days ago, I have lots of very tiny seedlings, how are yours doing, have yours germinated yet?

  7. Helen says:

    Hi Pauline,

    no they haven’t. But then, we have had lots of snow and sub zero temperatures for almost two months now. Today I just moved them into an unheated shed onto some heating cables I bought from Harrod Horticulture, there they have around 7° C underheating, during the night I will turn if off. I know it’s not what you recommended, and I have left one tray outside. But after reading different articles on the meconopsis site I thought I’d give them a helping hand.
    We actually visited Devon last summer, stayed around Exeter, absolutely loved it. But as it was also quite cold, and wet, I wondered whether it was considered mild : -))

    • Pauline says:

      Helen, its a good idea to try different methods if you have enough seed, do let me know what works best for you.
      Believe it or not, we live just 10 minutes away from Exeter, you must let me know if you come again, and yes, last summer was pretty dreadful, very cold and wet unfortunately, but we are warmer than the rest of the country in the winter, or we are supposed to be!

  8. How glorious, I realy enjoyed the tour of your woodland area Pauline, it is really special. Great to see the wider views too, rather than just the close-ups.

    • Pauline says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Janet, it is my favourite part of the garden at the moment! I think the wider views give a better idea of what I see when I go for my morning stroll!!

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Pauline, it’s so nice to glimpse your woodland space. I felt myself taking a quite deep sigh and relaxing, enjoying the beauty. susie

    • Pauline says:

      That is a lovely thing to say Susie, thank you, its how I feel whenever I go there, its a very relaxing place, with just the birds and their song for company! I have just planted my new witch hazel, H. Diane, now its up to her to grow!

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