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Last Month in My Garden: February 2012

‘Jottings from Bolam’ February 2012

Last year snow covered the garden for many weeks; so I have really enjoyed walking round my garden at every opportunity this February, eagerly looking for small, welcome signs of growth. We in the north are used to hearing how much further on things are in the south – spring certainly arrives late in the northeast - but all the more sweet when it does.

Having endured a very wet and cool summer last year, we are not very sympathetic to recent cries of drought from our southern cousins, or the talk of pipes to take our water down to them. Tough! They can have some of our water when they can send us some of that sunshine!

The hellebores are beginning to flower, and I have noticed that the paler flowered ones are opening first, I wonder why? Actually I prefer them, so fresh and spring like, while the dark reds and purples are lost against the soil, unless seen against the sun when they are stunning. I love the generously flowering Anemone blanda, appearing now, but in November the corms, having worked their way to the surface, as is their habit, were covered in ‘funny’ white patches. Closer inspection suggested that rodents were finding them tasty and revealing the pale ‘flesh’, so I threw compost over them, and there was no further damage.

The knobbly corms are indistinguishable from lumps of soil, so take care when digging. I remember getting an order of 50 blue corms and realising that they were actually small, broken portions of corms. The bed seemed far too large for these 50 small fragments but they all seemed to grow OK, have now developed into large corms and seeded vigorously. Every spring I get a thrill from the increasing ‘pool’ of blue under the walnut tree, where I can now barely stick a pin between the corms.

I am quite excited as the new water feature is now finished and the surrounding bed ready for planting – something that all gardeners relish. Using the old pump, a sixties concrete planter I picked up years ago, and a rill made up of old roofing slates, water flows into a galvanised cattle trough reservoir under ground, where the old pond was.

Planting will be sympathetic to that around it, with some bold leaved plants to offset the finer and ‘fussier’ foliage of ferns, grasses, polygonatum, heuchera etc. I fancy a giant leaved bergenia and I am now trying to come up with a good excuse to travel to West Lothian so I can visit the wonderful Binney Plants to see Bergenia ‘Eden’s Magic Giant’.....

Heather Russell

Text and photographs by Heather Russell of the HPS North East Group.
You can visit her own website at


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