We were away in January and came back to a February that has so far been mild but relentlessly rainy. The slugs are loving it and the early flowers are suffering. Still, my always reliable early bulbs are soldiering on, and if you don't look too closely at the damage, there are bright splashes of colour to be seen against the dark, sodden earth. Some of the first hellebores are lovely as ever. These include the very vigorous 'Rachel',
... pale double 'Frilly Kitty',
... deep purple Helleborus atropurpureus, with its coppery young leaves
... and upward-facing 'Pink Frost, the first of its clan to bloom and one of the last to
Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' always brightens the back garden, especially in the rare moments of sunshine,
... and I'm pleased this year with the combination of snowdrops and black mondo grass. Both are good at spreading and I'm hoping for an increasingly broader carpet of the pair in future years.
Slugs and/or heavy raindrops have collapsed the stems of many of the snow crocus, and they've rarely had a chance to open up under the gloomy skies. Once again 'Gipsy Girl' demonstrates why it remains my favourite with its deep brown tiger stripes that are only visible when the petals are shut tight.