The little woodland strip at the back of the house is beginning to look really pretty with all the early flowers starting to open.
We feel so lucky to have this bit of wood, which backs onto the road through the village, included in the garden.
The strip of mature oaks, ash and chestnuts stretches across 4 gardens and would you believe, the builder wanted to cut them all down to build the houses here!
The village were up in arms at the thought of all the trees coming down and put a preservation order on them – thank goodness!
The houses were then built facing the other way across the fields with an access road coming up beside the field.
All this means of course that woodland planting was a steep learning curve for me. Coming from Southport on the Lancashire coast my last garden was almost pure sand, what a difference!
Fortunately, just about this time, Beth Chatto wrote her book ” Woodland Garden”, just what I needed, I felt she was there telling me exactly what I needed to plant, after I had cleared all the brambles away.
Also I found a nursery, Long Acre Plants, in Somerset which deals only with plants for shade and boggy areas, again, just what I needed.
Each year more plants and bulbs get added, at this time of year it is the hellebores and snowdrops that are the centre of attention with a few others peeping through.
I keep thinking that I have enough hellebores, but then when I see new ones at the nursery, I think, can anyone have enough hellebores, they are all so beautiful and breeders are coming up with new varieties all the time to tempt us!
How can we help but be seduced by such a gorgeous flower!
Of course, as I have mentioned the hellebores flower at the same time as some of the snowdrops, but I have taken so many photographs of them so they will have to be in a separate post. A few other plants are brave enough to flower even though the wind is so very cold.
Spring snowflake or Leucojum vernum is out at the same time as the snowdrops and could easily be mistaken as they are about the same height as the wild snowdrop. Instead of having an inner tube with outer petals, they have all six petals the same size and look like a Tiffany lampshade.
Cardamine pratensis is spreading nicely under my Daphne. I grow this as ground cover because this is the plant that the orange tip butterfly likes to lay her eggs on! There are lots of flowers out at the moment, the mauve contrasting with the snowdrops near it, must make sure though that it doesn’t swamp the snowdrops!
Almost out, this Daphne bholua is in more shade than another which I have, so flowers later. The perfume makes a daily trip to the woodland essential!
Another plant still pumping out its perfume is Hamamellis intermedia pallida. This is now growing into a nice sized bush, it has taken a long time but it has been worth it.
Another snowflake, this time Leucojum aestivum or the summer snowflake!! This always seems to flower far too soon considering its name, it is much taller than the spring snowflake, more the size of a daffodil. There are only a couple of flowers out at the moment but lots of buds almost opening.
Iris reticulata Pauline has recovered from the snow that was dumped on her and is now opening lots more flowers.
Iris reticulata Edward is keeping Pauline company on the alpine scree, love this dark blue colour.
Another Iris, this time, unguicularis, in the front border by the drive. This one has produced quite a number of flowers, but I’m still waiting for my plant at the back to join in, so far nothing!
Growing up the wall by the back door is Chaenomeles and this variety flowers on and off all winter as long as the temperature is above freezing. This shrub makes a very useful perching post for the birds waiting to use the feeders.
Various shady places have either Cyclamen hederifolium or C.coum planted. C. coum doesn’t seem to be spreading as quickly as C. hederifolium. Do ants hibernate in the winter, does anyone know, because it is the ants that spread the seed of C. hederifolium and they are making a good job of it, putting them where I would never have considered! Maybe I will have to start saving seed of C.coum to sow myself.
The woodland is a very special place for me, as you can see, in the winter and spring it is full of flowers, the narcissus and snakeshead fritillaries will follow on from the snowdrops and hellebores. It is quieter in the summer, mainly foliage with ferns, hostas and heucheras, with a few foxgloves, then it has a second period when it is a joy to visit, and that is autumn when the acers and hazels put on their show of autumn tints. It has something of interest for 11 months of the year, that’s something that non of my other borders can do!