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Blooming sensations in winter. Are the flowers early?

What's blooming in your garden?

There's no doubt that winter in the south east has been mild up until now. Like it or loathe it, there's not a lot that we can do to control the weather. But what effect does this have on your garden? There have been many reports of early blooms appearing in the damp but warm air. Many attribute their welcome but unexpected delight to the effects of climate change. In fact in some places it is estimated that flowers are out six months early! Some roses, for example haven't stopped blooming since last summer.

Roses are still blooming - there has been little frost in the south east and winter is mild across most of the country The balmy weather saw December recorded as the mildest on record and there are flowers such as geraniums and irises out now in some areas. Look in the woods for bluebells and celandines too. These are flowers that we don't usually see until spring. But there are also plenty of the 'normal' bloomers of the season including snowdrops and hellebores.

We can normally expect to see Hellebores flowering in winter. But this year we have many unseasonal bloomers too!

Celandines are blooming earlier than usual in sheltered, shady, protected spots in the south east of the UK Climate change tends to be blamed for all sorts of things. Don't we all love to talk about "The coldest; the wettest; the hottest; the driest; the sunniest (yay!) etc. etc". We all love to create a bit of drama and there's nothing like the weather to help! It's not just in the UK that we like to dramatise - the weather makes the news headlines all over the world!

Water, water, everywhere! Not just in the UK, even in Australia. Many view daffodils as the first sign of spring, but this is not necessarily the case. Some daffodils and narcissi flower as early as October and November. It is normal for varieties such as Paper White and Rijnveld's Early Sensation to flower well before Christmas, so those remarking on these early harbingers of spring might just be witnessing the natural habits of early varieties.

Daffodils are a welcome sight and many are reporting 'unseasonally early' blooms abounding.  

A host of golden daffodils

Daffodils and narcissi are certainly some of the most reliable bulbs you can plant. They cope well with wet weather and competition from other plants even grass. Some can continue to flower through frost and snow, so it is possible to have them blooming in the garden from October through to May.

Early daffodils are quite comfortable flowering in frost and even snow! This year they have only had rain to contend with down in the south east of England.   There are at least 50 different species, and many more hybrids too. Colours come in white; ivory and cream through to the brightest yellow and some even have a pinky tone. The flowers range from simple, single blooms and tiny stars to giant trumpets and flamboyant doubles that almost look like peonies. Some are highly scented and others are discreet there really is a daffodil for every location and taste.  

Yes, there really are PINK daffodils! They have names such as PINK RADIANCE; ROMANCE and PINK CHARM. But which are the best? Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but the aforementioned 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' has a top notch position because of its large flowers and relatively tall height (up to 35cm).

These 'Early Sensation' daffodils bloom early, as the name suggests! It's not a freak of nature or anything to do with climate change. There's 'February Gold' to start the real spring season, with its delicately proportioned flowers which have golden petals in a 'swept-back' style. It lasts for many weeks from late February into March and even April.

The bright and cheering 'February Gold' is good for cheering hearts and minds in late winter and early spring. Narcissus 'Jetfire' is a bright and bold variety with golden petals and a contrasting orange trumpet. It appears in March and April and provides a welcome splash of colour. Flowering around the same time is Narcissus 'Minnow' which has a delightfully sweet fragrance and has an equally enjoyable habit of multiplying relatively quickly. The clusters of small, but perfectly formed flowers have pale cream petals and vibrant, tiny yellow trumpets which some liken to cup and saucers.

The miniature daffodil 'Minnow' is delightful For nearer the back of the border, plant 'Spellbinder' with its 50cm habit and yellow trumpet blooms. It flowers over a long period and the blooms gradually fade to a creamy white during April. Then allow the delightfully-named 'Cheerfulness' to take over the baton, with its luscious double flowers and amazing sweet scent. It is at its best in April where it can cheerfully occupy the middle of the border. Want something to naturalise in grass? Consider 'Jack Snipe', a pretty yellow and white daffodil which also has fragrant blooms. It will pop up in April and looks great planted in large clumps in the lawn or at the front of borders.

Daffodil 'Jack Snipe' is a cheerful flower that never fails to impress. To extend the yellow season through to May, there's the small, but perfectly formed narcissus 'Hawera' which has pale yellow flowers with petals that curve backwards giving the appearance of tiny shuttlecocks. This is ideal for the front of the border or even in pots.  

The sweet, magical Daffodil 'Hawera' is tiny but perfect. No mention of daffodils and narcissi can be complete without referring to the highly popular Tête-a-tête which is a dwarf, toy-like daffodil standing at only 15cm tall. These are the flowering bulbs you might buy as a gift in a container and if you are given any, don't ever throw them away! They naturalise really well in the garden and look wonderful in window boxes and in baskets.

Popular in containers because of its diminutive size, 'Tete a Tete' can grow in the garden when you've finished with it indoors. When planting up pots, ensure to include an element of 'successional flowering' so your pots have interest that extend for many weeks if not months. Make sure that the heights, colours and requirements of plants are compatible or you could end up with fresh plants flowering alongside dead ones not a great combination.  

By Perfect Plants


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