Once Christmas is over and we’ve all seen in the New Year, things can feel a bit flat. Thankfully, December and the first week or so of January have been very mild down here in Devon so there are some uplifting and very welcome signs of life on the garden.
As many of you will know, hellebores are one of my favourite flowers. I think they are beautiful in both their range of colour and also in their slightly spiky architectural look. But I love them probably most of all because you can be sure that, even in the darkest, dankest January day, if you have hellebores in your garden, you will have flowers!
In fact, the whole of last autumn was relatively mild and wet. The ground temperature has remained warm and, as we know, plants like plenty of rain, so now they are probably thinking: “Hmm, winter must be over, let’s start to flower.”
Lots of shrubs are sprouting in my garden and I noticed a neighbour’s rhubarb was already sending out new bright pink shoots.
As it’s been so mild, snowdrops and primroses are already making a show – I have heard that in some areas, snowdrops were out before Christmas! Such delicate flowers, they are really beautiful if you stop and take a moment to look at them in detail. A cluster of snowdrops pushing through a mossy bank is a delight to behold.
The primrose is the flower of Devon and, believe me, they really do flourish down here! Because of Devon’s climate, soil and geographical position, the wild primrose can be widely found in woodland and countryside right across the county.
I read recently that, in past centuries, Devon’s old paper mills used to send primrose blooms to customers because the flower was seen – even then – as a symbol of a breath of fresh Devon air.
In a month or so, the banks of our steep Devon lanes will be smothered in primroses, and then I will know that Spring really has arrived.