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My Garden Journal 2020 – February

Okay, it’s February in this leap year so we will gain a day, and it is time for another visit to my garden journal. Weather has been interesting this month just because it has been so extreme and variable, wild and wet, with gales, hail, snow, sleet and rain!

On the first page I wrote,“February’s flowering plant of the month, Iris reticulata.” at the page top above a photograph of Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ and two of my watercolour sketches of the same iris plus one called ‘George. I used Japanese brush pens.

Over the page I painted two Cyclamen growing in our Arabella Garden, which were planted as a clump of five small plants and have now become a lovely ground-hugging patch in shades of pink with a few whites. The foliage is as interesting as the flowers.

On the page opposite I feature a beautiful brown-bronze foliage evergreen shrub, my “Foliage plant of the month. Coprosma ‘Pacific Night!”

More sketches created using Japanese brush pens appear on the next page where I selected a few branches of some of my favourite Salix shrubs, willows, Salix daphnoides, Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ and Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’. We love these for their unusually coloured catkins.

On the opposite page is my “Stem and bark plant of the month, Euonymus alata ‘Blade Runner’, so called because it sports long thin wings alongside each stem and these become a real feature in the winter months.


I finished off my February journal entries with a double page spread of photogrsaphs illustrating our “Gardening tasks for February”.

These tasks included pruning hydrangeas, pollarding our contorted willow, attempting to repair a leak that has appeared in our wildlife pond and beginning the time-consuming task of adding a 2 inch layer of organic compost as a mulch over every border. The most fiddly job was trying to repair our woven willow fence panel that the wild dog from next door decided to break through and create a hole right through.

We also began to create a new water feature for our front garden, a large fibreglass bowl finished in a granite effect ready to become a miniature water feature. We took up a square of turf up and filled the area with a few inches of gravel to sit the bowl in. We now wait until the right time to plant suitable plants.

So that is my February entries for my 2020 Garden Journal. In next month we might be able to report a few early signs of spring.


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12 Christmas Garden Delights

As a Christmas greeting to everyone I thought I would go out into the garden here at Avocet and take 12 photos that depict the delights of our patch on Christmas Day.

A dozen December delights!

xm-15 Out of season – Rosa Raspberry Royal.

xm-10 Cyclamen coum

xm-04 Sarcococca confusa

xm-03 Euphorbia wulfennii

xm-05 Hebe Great Orme

xm-09 Jasminum nudiflorum

xm-06 Cornus Midwinter Fire

xm-08 Carex elata aurea

xm-14 Winter Cyclamen

xm-12 Betula albosinensis Septentronalis.

xm-16 Physalis alkekengi (Chinese Lantern).

xm-17 One of our many ferns, Arachnoides aristata.

We have had a great year in our Avocet Garden with so much to enjoy, so many visitors to share our patch with and plenty of wildlife to share it too!

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Cyclamen for Autumn

Jude, aka the Undergardener aka Mrs Greenbench, and I love special plants that give extra interest at their own specific times of the year. The Cyclamen we plant in pots each autumn fall into this category and they give exceptional interest with their flowers and their foliage despite their diminutive size. We also grow their relatives in our open garden. They are all tuberous plants and enjoy being grown in partly shaded patches of our garden. We have to make sure the soil is enriched in organic matter so we ensure the areas around them are well-mulched each spring.


Flowers and foliage are both unusual to look at, with unique colours, shapes and patterns. There are no two leaves the same on any plant, as they vary in shape, size, texture, colour and variegation. Their flowers appear like those of no other plant with fly-back petals giving an inside out look to each flower head. Can-can dancers!


We plant them in all sorts of containers with various partners to give added interest and then position the containers where they can be seen from our windows or doors during the colder months. They are there to cheer the garden up and make us smile!

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Visitors to our garden are greeted by seasonally changing plant boxes and cyclamen always find their way here in the autumn. They partner up with the smaller growing grasses particularly well increasing the beauty of both plants.

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Again they give warm welcomes to visitors as they arrive at the front door of Avocet.

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Alongside the driveway we grow them in galvanised containers with bronze-leaved grasses and variegated leaved ivies.

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Where more of our Cyclamen grow than anywhere else is in the Rill Garden where we get good views of them from the garden room double doors. Great big smiles on dull overcast winter days.

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In the borders we grow both Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen hederifolium in lightly shaded areas to give bright patches of colour, with C.coum blooming in the spring and C. hederifolium in autumn. A few plants will suddenly stop you in your tracks when you realise you now have a spreading patch.

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Garden Cyclamen have an unusual relationship with our garden ants too, which adds to their mystique. We notice seedlings appear in the strangest places often several feet from parent plants and it is hard to find any pattern to their distribution nor rhyme nor reason to their chosen new homes. Ants are the force behind our moving Cyclamen. The appearance of fresh plants in bizarre places show that some other force is at work as the plant itself could not possible have the power to send their heavy seeds so far. The Cyclamen coats its leaves in a sweet substance that is irresistible to ants who carry them off several metres resulting occasionally in their sudden appearance in hanging baskets, containers and odd corners of the garden. This relationship between ants and cyclamen is called “myrmecochory”, a suitably bizarre word for a bizarre phenomena. The photos below show four of the Cyclamen plants that have been seeded by our garden’s ants.

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Although it is primarily the crazy pinks and reds of the flowers that make us buy them, they are also great garden plants because of their unusual foliage. It is often quoted that no two leaves of these plants are ever the same! Below is an assortment of foliage belonging to our Cyclamen.

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Sadly the cyclamen growing in the wild are endangered following exploitation by ruthless bulb hunters who flooded the plant markets of Europe and America with them. They are now protected and this wild hunting is banned. New methods of propagation means that we now have so many beautiful variations available to us and the wild populations are increasing once again. So their future is bright – bright pink!