Perhaps I am more at home in a woodland setting than anywhere else, and I find things to delight me here in any season; the cathedral like hush under the vaulted green ceiling in high summer, the low sunlight slanting through the branches in autumn, the stark, graphic monochrome stage set in winter. Mosses and lichens and ferns all year round. And spring has its own particuar magic in a woodland setting, as light levels increase, the ground warms up, and the canopy overhead has yet to fill in and filter out the suns rays. At that time, snowdrops, hellebores and epimediums rule the garden unchallenged against a backdrop of marbled cyclamen leaves, in the humble company of early-flowering Ranunculacae; brash celandines or more bashful, delicate wood anemones paying tribute to their larger cousin, the Lenten Rose.
Not all of this is strictly necessary from a horticultural point of view. Emerging shoots will have more than enough oomph to push through the insulating mantle of soggy leaves, and fresh spring flowers will be supremely unconcerned about sharing the stage with the previous season’s vegetation. These hellebores are healthy and as yet show no signs of the blackspot fungus Microsphaeropsis hellebore which does require old leaves to be removed and burnt, and so the exercise here is carried out largely for aesthetic reasons. My clients quite like to be able to see what’s emerging at this time of year, a preference which seems quite reasonable to me. Anticipation is a huge part of the joy of gardening – never more so than during the winter months – and who would deprive themselves of a few extra days of delight by forcing their plants to remain hidden that much longer under superfluous inches of decaying sludge? Not I.
|Lurgy on hellebore leaves at Wisley this morning. Just for reference, you understand.|