Snowdrops, birdsong and spring.

My spirits lift whenever I venture into the garden. The song thrush is in good voice, the robin is singing loudly to warn off competitors and the great spotted woodpecker is drumming furiously. The snowdrops are superb, carpeting the ground beneath some shrubs and the clumps of winter aconites have really thickened up.

We have just returned from a trip to Norfolk, where we went to Anglesey Abbey- always worth a visit at this time of year. The winter walk was as lovely as ever and of course I could not resist buying a couple of new snowdrops. My special snowdrops are looking particularly fine – the strulch still seems to be deterring the molluscs.

I am delighted by the firepit, which I planted with Iris reticulata a couple of years ago. The clumps have really thickened up and provide a welcome splash of winter colour.

Honeybees are homing in on early crocuses, the newts are active in the pond and shoots of daffodils and tulips are evident all over the garden. Spring is on the way.

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Iris unguicularis and other winter treats

I happed up well and discovered a number of treasures, when I went for a chilly garden stroll. Winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox) is well out, but the flowers are all too high so I must prune the tree to bring them within reach. Sweet box, both Sarcococca confusa by the back patio and Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna by the front door, are also in bloom and on a sunny day the sweet scent carries quite a distance.

I picked some  Iris unguicularis (formerly Iris stylosa) for the house. My mother always had a few of the delicate purple flowers in a small glass vase at this time of year.They do not last long, but they are a special winter treat and bring back happy memories. I also found several bright blue clumps of the dwarf Iris histrioides ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’.