Ffffffing February

We would like to be alliterative in our title but the mind runs to words which might cause offense. I suppose I could have said Freezing February but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, it was cold, the fingers suffered in the garden, but it wasn’t Arctic by any means; there wasn’t snow or ice and the few frosts were light and did no damage. Nonetheless it was a month worthy of a capital F spewed with venom, disappointment and disgust.

Most of all it was dull, a dull February. What’s surprising about that, you might well ask. It is winter after all and light level are always lower in winter, the reason for people with Seasonal Affected Disorder to feel miserable. Thankfully, it the dull days don’t affect me in that way; I am simply miserable all year round. I never though of it with that turn of phrase before – I am an all-round misery. I should have a badge for that, I think.

A few views from the garden at the end of February, a mixture of hellebores, snowdrops and Cardamine quincefolia:

Anyway, I have digressed. February was dull, dark, dreary, drab and colourless and it was this latter which really brought home to me how low the light levels were. I have a number of snowdrops which have yellow marks where others have green marks – the ovary (or “receptacle” as it should properly be called) and the markings on the inner segments. The flowers need a certain amount of sunshine for this yellowness to develop well and this year it hardly went further than a light olive-green; certainly not a clear yellow by a long shot and this was very disappointing.

Galanthus plicatus ‘Annalivia’ which in most years would be a good strong clear yellow but it rather dull in appearance this year because of the low light levels we have had during February.
By way of contrast, this snowdrop is from the same population as ‘Annalivia’ above. It was photographed in the site where I found ‘Annalivia’ and, obviously, light levels were far better there though it is only an hour’s drive away from home.

In an effort to look on the bright side of life and to deny my title of “all-round misery”, I must recall that it was a particularly dry month which, at least allowed us to be out and gardening so we could freeze our fingers and butts off and be miserable for an entirely different reason altogether – variety is really the spice of life! Yes, we were busy: we visited several gardens – reported in previous blog posts – and did quite an amount of work in the garden. Under the direction of the Head Gardener – for otherwise I would spend all my time taking photographs of snowdrops and anything else that caught my eye – every flowerbed and border has been cleared of debris; all have been freshened up; compost has been spread skillfully on as many areas as supply allowed; all paeonias and clematis have been given their annual dressing of compost; an hypericum hedge with cotoneaster trailing over a retaining wall have been removed – see, I’m good for some jobs! – and a bed of new hellebores planted in their stead. The Head Gardener hated the yellow flowers of the hypericum (they didn’t bother me) and its fate had been listed for some years. A nice witch-hazel was added among the hellebores with thoughts of more when a decision has been made on that front. The grass was cut and edged – my area of responsibility – and there was a lot of shredding and loading onto the compost bin – me, again! Dahlia tubers have all been potted up – the Head Gardener undertook this job with the regular comment that there really are too many of them (about 50!) and we really should give up on them and switch to something less bothersome. However, she will love them when they are in flower – a good month earlier than those left in the ground – but will complain of the constant need to dead-head later on.

And, there were positive aspects to the flower show of the garden also. The snowdrop season went quickly through its main season but there are still a good number in flower and a few only at their best now as we are well into March. Of course, hellebores have given great colour and interest in the garden as have the witch-hazels and the early daffodils made an appearance. It is tempting to comment on those flowers looking good at this moment, at the end of the first week of March, but I will confine myself to those of February. Crocus, cyclamens and winter aconites, although they are small things, also deserve a mention for they are so very welcome in those colder days. ‘Katherine Hodgkins’ and some forms of Iris unguicularis give a nice splash of colour and although it is fleeting it is very welcome.

Bits and pieces on the mantlepiece

As I write we have one of those cutting days of March, days when the cruel wind threatens the life of any plant which is already struggling after the winter. It is not a day for gardening; one more for reading, writing and reflection, for being indoors and staying warm and for looking ahead in anticipation for the trilliums are peeping through as are the primulas, erythroniums, magnolias, epimediums and tulips. Brighter and warmer days are coming!

A changing of the guard, so to speak, as the daffodils shine and take over the show from the snowdrops. Here are the first of them this year:

A snowdrop round-up: There are a few which haven’t opened yet and a few I have missed but the snowdrop season is at an end really or, at least, there is now competition from other garden plants that they no longer hold the prominent position in the garden they have held for the last few months.

Click to view as a larger image and to start a slideshow:


14 thoughts on “Ffffffing February

    1. I found it dreadfully dull, overcast almost on all days. The dry was appreciated for we could, at least, be out in the garden.


  1. I can wholeheartedly understand your despise of “FFFebruary”. We live in a tiny grey town, not much color here. The color comes when spring arrives. The winters are dull and grey. Even the rice fields are grey in winter. Just when I’m losing my mind in mid to end of our favorite month….March arrives and the Ume trees start to bloom. Bursts of bright pinks to the rescue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have had a spell of cold weather this week but we escaped snow here in the southeast so we can’t complain too much. The daffodils are coming along well now and adding colour to the garden. Magnolias are fabulous at the moment – there is an outstanding collection in a garden near us and we visit regularly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Approximately equivalent to USA zone 8. Generally mild and wet. Snow uncommon; frosts light; rain regular. Summer hightest 25C or so. Winter lowest -2C

        Liked by 1 person

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