“Every year, in the third week of February, there is a day, or, more usually, a run of days, when one can say for sure that the light is back. Some juncture has been reached, and the light spills into the world from a sun suddenly higher in the sky.”
~ Kathleen Jamie, ‘Light’ from her book Sightlines.
This is one of my favourite-ever quotes. I’ve hung onto it through winter for a few years now and it’s absolutely right and bang on time, every February. It always fills me with hope, when winter is dark, that the world still turns and the light will come back. So here we are, the second-half of February and the light reappeared as always. I visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey because I’d been told how beautiful the Winter Gardens are. It really felt like an energy-giving visit, to see the colour and structure and texture of plants bringing winter to life.
Hellebores in their element on the woodland floor but I especially like the acidic-yellow of these Ashwood garden hybrids.
I always think witch hazel in the right winter light looks really eye-catching, but it’s more tricky to capture the details and bring out their best. I like the contrasty light and colours here.
I love the ruby-red peeling bark of Prunus serrula in our own garden – the pairings with golden grasses, the acidic colours of this witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Sunburst’) plus the ‘Black Mondo Grass’ (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigresecens’) makes for a stunning corner in the winter sunshine.
Lonicera purpusii ‘Spring romance’ – so fragrant…
I used the National Garden Scheme website to find out about snowdrop garden openings, and planned a visit to Welford Park near Newbury. These beautiful gardens open regularly throughout snowdrop season but this special ‘yellow book’ day through the NGS raised money for several charities, as well as having well-stocked plant stalls from galanthus specialists, Elworthy Cottage Plants and Foxgrove Nursery.
Snowdrops and winter aconites welcome you to the woodland walk.
Did you know that the leaves of snowdrop have hardened tips, to break through the earth while it’s still frozen solid? And that their sap contains a form of antifreeze? Amazing nature…
The beech woods had a thick, sumptuous carpet of galanthus. This spot by the River Lambourn provides them with their perfect growing conditions.
A crew were filming a segment on snowdrop season for ITV’s ‘This Morning’, with Heather Skinner from the National Garden Scheme presenting the Puxley family with a commemorative sundial – a thank you for FORTY years of opening their gardens to the public!
(Welford Park has also been home to the filming of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ for the last few years. Appropriately, there was an extended cafe area in a marquee for this open day, and I can thoroughly recommend the tea & cake!).