March 2010

Our first opportunity to go out and about in our own garden and the surrounding hills was a glorious reminder of the huge diversity of spring flowers – and orchids – which populate the wilder areas of the south of Portugal. Enjoy !

A recent visit to the Midlands area of the UK was a salutory lesson in winter gardening for someone like me who has been living in the south west of Europe for the last five years.  We had heard about the snow and ice on the roads but it was still a bit of a shock to see the starved looking grassland and totally bare hedgerows, even in early March.  Even so, it did prove the point that there are plants for every situation.

The unexpected pleasure of visiting the garden of friends which was open for charity made up for the bare landscape.  There was a profusion of snowdrops in full flower, crocus, aconites and glorious hellebores showing colour.  The Cyclamen coum had lovely dark pink flowers surrounded by large dark green leaves.

It was very pleasant to see the Iris unguicularis flowering, I have several clumps of these in the garden here and although the UK plants were not quite so floriferous, they certainly had some flowers despite the cold.  There is a deep

blue, a lilac and a white flowered form of this iris and all have golden accents on the falls of the flowers. If you pick some buds, by gently pulling them right at the base, they can be put into water and will then open indoors so that you get the lovely scent without braving whatever the weather is throwing around outside.

Frost on foliage made patterns I had forgotten about and the seedheads were still strongly upright – contributing to the feel of a garden asleep, but not completely forgotten.