At the edge of the Hilltop woodland the newly planted, well behaved and simple combination of Narcissus ‘'Tête-à-Tête' and Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ delight all. Dainty and delicate, they flower at the same time underneath the tree canopy in an expanse of a thousand or more bulbs. They look equally as great tightly packed in a small pot. The clear blue simple-ness of the Scilla pops up in and around the well-loved 'Tête-à-Tête' easily either in sun or shade. The foliage remains tidy after flowering until they have all died down back into dormancy until autumn later this year.
The Helleborus × hybridus in all their varying shades look great for weeks on end, seemingly nodding to each other in their groups, we removed their old leaves before Christmas to enhance the flowers and against the black mulch they look lovely. The nice thing about Helleborus × hybridus is that even if you only have one plant as I have in my own back garden, it will increase in size and give a great display. Alongside these we have well-loved snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’), single ones and double ones, they are just finishing now and we have ordered 2,000 more to plant in the green to bulk up an area where they are a little sparse. This is a good time to move or divide any groups that have become congested over the years. Sometimes like this year the spring colour emerges earlier than usual and although the welcome colour is warming to the eye as is the temperature to us, we would be foolish to think it will not change.
Warmer winters play havoc with our cutting back duties. We find ourselves slowed by the emergence of new fresh growth, not wishing to cut them off, the fleshy stems grow tall around the old from last year making our lives harder as we tidy the beds and borders. The grasses are romping away, we trimmed them a month ago on the dry garden and already just the first week of March the new growth is 30cms (1ft) above the old. Some will say that the weather is cold, but it has been wonderful at times, February brought us double figures on a couple of days around mid-afternoon, we found ourselves just down to our jumpers, praising and enjoying the wonderful weather and on other days, thermals, hats, coats and double layers of gloves emerged again, never too far away!
Our resident ducks of which there are a fair few now are searching for suitable nesting spots, we have to keep a look out for them so as not to disturb their nests in our borders. They do choose some odd places, but it is worth the bother because what is lovelier than a line of ducklings hurrying along behind the mother, stopping at the office door without fail each morning for some breakfast seed. Be sure to visit us soon to see some more delights for yourselves.
- RHS Garden Hyde Hall featured on Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4 on Easter Monday - listen here