The light came back

“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.

sir harold hillier gardens hampshire grasses in sunlight in the winter gardens

Here the appropriately-named Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter fire’ looks aflame next to the creamy peeling bark of Betula ermanii.

cornus sanguinea midwinter fire and betula ermanii at the harold hillier winter gardens hampshire

a walk through the harold hillier gardens marked by acer 'gingerbread' planted by the Queen

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.

hamamelis at sir harold hillier gardens hampshire garden photographer

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.

professional garden photographer at sir harold hillier winter gardens prunus serrula and hamamelis

galanthus at sir harold hillier winter gardens hampshire garden photographer

delights of light at the winter gardens, sir harold hillier gardens, hampshire garden photography

sweet box sarcococca hookeriana digyna purple stem evergreen at hillier gardens winter gardens borderLonicera purpusii ‘Spring romance’ – so fragrant…

Lonicera purpusii 'Spring romance' garden photographer surrey

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.

national garden scheme snowdrop open day at welford park berkshire

Snowdrops and winter aconites welcome you to the woodland walk.

snowdrops and winter aconites lining the way to the woodland walk at welford park galanthus open day NGS

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…

galanthus in the beech woods at welford park NGS

The beech woods had a thick, sumptuous carpet of galanthus. This spot by the River Lambourn provides them with their perfect growing conditions.

welford park newbury river lambourn galanthus snowdrops in the beech woods

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!

national garden scheme heather skinner presents a commemorative sundial to deborah puxley of welford park

filming of ITV's 'This Morning' at Welford Park for the National Garden Scheme snowdrop open day

welford park berkshire in february beech woods carpeted with galanthus snowdrops

(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!).



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  • Susan Banting - Beautiful photos showing how much colour can be found in a month usually thought of as drab.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Beautiful work as always, Julie! Such a feast for the eyes!ReplyCancel