A walk in the woods

The Lower Woods, underplanted with rhododendrons, which we’ve gradually added to over the years

It’s been a cold winter so far. Often, the weather is quite kind running up to December, but this year we’ve had more ringing frosts and more flurries of snow. And several more falls so far in January.

Nothing of course compared to what’s been going on in the US recently, but enough to put pay to the over-wintering pelargoniums and give the agapanthus a good fright in the greenhouse. Interestingly, 4 elderly and very prickly cacti, also resident there, are hanging on, demonstrating, I suppose, that deserts can be as cold as they are hot.

Mahonia, dusted with snow

And yet, despite the cold, plants are starting to move. Our large Mahonia in the walled garden has been covered with yellow, lightly-scented blooms for some time now. It is now approaching 12’, though, with most of the blooms in the upper half and some of the branches starting to bend over with their weight, so when the flowers are over, we shall cut it back to more manageable proportions, as it is shading out the pillar apples growing behind it.



Winter Aconite

The bulbs too are really starting to move. I noticed our first winter aconite out on January 3rd in a sheltered corner of the walled garden under an apple tree – surely a sign that spring is on its way.

Variegated Holly






The path through the woods, with the dormant Tree Paeony on the left, leading down to the Blue Spruce

In the woodland, too, the snowdrops’ bright green noses are starting to poke up through the leaf litter. When we cleared the woodland of shoulder-high nettles some years ago, we discovered a couple of nice hollies, a Philadelphus (Mock Orange), a Viburnum bodnantense, and a rather nice dark-red tree peony, all waiting to be rescued!

and back again, showing the north west corner of the Walled Garden. In a few weeks time, the leaf litter will be studded with snowdrops

As well as a lot of snowdrops which we think may have been growing quietly there for well over 100 years. I always get worried, though, about standing on these delicate little harbingers at this time of year. So, a winter project this Christmas holidays has been to mark out a path through the woodland, which will provide a framework for us to plant some more woodland-dwellers into during the spring, as well as ensure that the current residents aren’t trodden on.
















Galanthus nivalis, the Snowdrop

Only a few weeks to wait until the first snowy pearls appear!













2 thoughts on “A walk in the woods

  1. One snowdrop stands tall here showing one bloom. This collection is new to my gardens, so they will need to settle in. The only other shrub blooming is my hamamelis Wisely Supreme. It bloomed in the fall and I am so glad to see a repeat of blooms now, as the gardens are so dull this time of year. -5F here this month, so only the tough will thrive. Most plants are mature, so I do not expect any loss.
    One the other hand, Virginia is in a moderate drought since summer, and little moisture is expected. Over the past three years we have experienced a 15″ rain deficit. Area residents will need to learn to consume less water. I am glad to have a well, where I can conserve year-round. City dwellers, on the other hand, will pay higher water bills and water have mandatory restrictions.
    Your gardens look lovely and peaceful. The snowdrops will be magical. Glad to know your wee four-legger will keep the rabbits at bay.
    Cheers, Diane


    • Snowdrops do take time to settle down, it’s true, but well worth waiting for! Very exciting! Ours started flowering a wee while ago but they were very short-stemmed. This past week they’ve been elongating and peeking through the leaf-litter. This evening when I got home there was a real smell of spring in the air! And the days are starting to get longer too, perhaps aided by the Super-moon! We don’t have witch hazels here so something I’d love to try. Is Wisley Supreme scented? I do hope you get some decent rainfall soon, although you’re most fortunate having your own well. Water is not something we’re short of here in Scotland!


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