It might be the shortest month of the year, but February always seems to drag on! It’s the month when winter seems never ending and the slightest sign that spring’s around the corner does a lot to lift the spirits.
That’s why it’s so exciting when you see those first pristine white, daintily nodding snowdrop flowers, which normally appear from February to cheer us up until we reach March.
But snowdrops aren’t the only harbingers of spring. Choose a few plants from a supporting cast of colourful candidates and February needn’t be such a bleak month after all.
Late winter-flowering Cyclamen coum produces bright magenta flowers at exactly the same time as your snowdrops, making them the ideal planting partner. They’ll seed themselves along with your snowdrops to create seas of colour below trees and shrubs.
The same is true of Eranthis hyemalis, also known as the winter aconite. It produces golden yellow goblet-shaped flowers, each one surrounded by an Elizabethan ruff of green leaves and makes another lovely snowdrop companion if you’d rather have a carpet of spring-like yellow and white. Cyclamen coum thrives in almost any soil and is happy in sun or shade, whereas eranthis prefer heavy soil and shade.
You can even find the odd daffodil, prepared to be brave and flower in February, such as the aptly-named ‘February Gold’ and ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ and there are crocuses that will produce blooms now, including rich lilac Crocus sieberi, white and blue C biflorus and yellow C chrysanthus.
Another bulb, Iris unguicularis, produces surprisingly flamboyant blue-grey flowers on mild days. Look for pots of the variety ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ (shown above) in the garden centre. These bulbs are all a heart-warming sight to see when it’s cold outside and the garden’s all but bare.
But for something a bit more showy, that will have you willingly leave the comfort of the house to investigate their beautiful flowers, add some hellebores to the mix.
Helleborus niger is known as the Christmas rose, but rarely flowers then, preferring to wait until around mid-February to produce its pure white, apple-green and gold-centred flowers. They thrive in clay soil and in dappled shade, producing a clump of leathery green leaves from which the flowers rise. Try planting it on a bank so you can easily see their naturally nodding flowers.
MUST-BUY PLANT... Primroses
EVERY DAY: Primula vulgaris
Our native primrose has pale lemon yellow flowers with an egg-yolk coloured centre, and up close, a subtle, sweet scent.
EXTRA SPECIAL: Primula ‘Guinevere’
A special variety with a rosette of purple-green leaves, making the perfect contrast to the delicate, dusky pink flowers.
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