The mild weather persists and finding a Helleborus orientalis actually in flower prompted me to remove the leaves from all the hellebores. I was just in time as their fat buds are already well up and in another week the whole exercise would have been more tricky and would probably have resulted in some collateral damage. It seems a shame to sheer off healthy green leaves but in theory this both reduces the risk of the fungus to which hellebores are prone and ensures that the flowers will have more impact. However for many years I left the leaves untouched – the plants came to no harm and the flowers were perfectly visible. The British native, Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore) is also about to open.
The striking marbled leaves on Helleborus × ericsmithii ‘Winter Moonbeam’ do not need to be removed.
More and more snowdrops are emerging including Atkinsii, David Shackleton, Lady Beatrice Stanley, Merlin, Mrs Macnamara (almost in flower) and large clumps of Galanthus nivalis. It is always a thrill when the snowdrops faithfully reappear. I put yet more leaves into the new leaf mould compost bin, cleared away a lot of old plant material and mulched with Mr B’s excellent compost. The tidied beds are full of promise.
A nuthatch called from the ash tree above my head and I watched it moving down the trunk. A pair of robins joined me in the flower bed, delighted that I was revealing such tasty morsels under the leaves, and blackbirds, starlings and fieldfares are quarrelling over the apples on the lawn. It was a good day to be outside.