Thursday 12 January 2012

Working with nature.

 To translate the natural world into garden terms isn't easy.    I have worked hard over the last ten years to create a woodland area that is pleasing to the eye but mostly beneficial to wildlife.
 I  do as little as possible with this space.    I try not to spoil the natural balanced cycle of growth.
 Moss, lichen and decay is what fuels a wood and for me, only enchances its beauty.     I find woods are the most peaceful places on earth.   The rustling of leaves, incessant birdsong, and the hum of insects reminds me that this is a very special environment filled with abundant life........I treasure and respect my little bit of woodland and believe it to be a valuable space for both flora and fauna.
 It also holds some of my most treasured plants.    Hellebores, as you well know, top my list of favourites.   I never tire of their modesty, their fragility.   Flowering in the winter months, they bring light, hope, and joy to this gardener.   Harvington double freckles has a place in my heart.
 Double purple is stunning.....I love the depth of colour and the way the winter sun catches me unawares and takes her to another level.
Have I ever told you about number two on my favourites lists.    Cyclamen coum.......they thrive here.    Sometimes I lay on my tummy to take a photograph.    I did that today, just for you sweet blogging friends.   I wanted to show you close up.....she is shy and small but isn't she just beautiful.   Big isn't always best :)

Last autumn in a moment of madness i bought one Broad-leaved Helleborine.    I would not usually be so extravagant but decided to take a chance with this little beauty.   A native and one that grows amongst oak and beech she now nestles in the heart of my little wood.
The specialist told me to plant and leave.   I have done just that.   They are unpredictable plants but if conditions are right they will bloom.      I live in hope:)


  1. Seeing all of this lovely green in your garden is a treat Cheryl. It is blowing snow here today. Brrrr winter has finally stepped in. My heart picked up the pace a little when I saw all of your cyclamen blooming with the foliage still standing. WOW. I can just picture you on your tummy trying to picture these darling shy blooms. The hellebores are spectacular with freckles and that sultry purple color. Your garden does so well for you because it knows you care for it so well. Such fun getting to see an over all of an area as well as some close ups.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    Brrrr snow! We have a cold front on the way and temperatures will drop. I am expecting a harsh frost tonight, so have rescued some of my cuttings etc and put them in a nice warm place :)

    I struggle to lie down and take photographs because of my neck problem but I was determined to get a closer was worth it.

    I am amazed at just how quickly the cyclamen have spread.....I do believe the egg shell helps and obviously they are happy under the old apple tree.

  3. Hi Cheryl,

    I can't believe how warm it's been for the past few days - don't even need a jacket!
    Anyway it's supposed to get cold just in time for the weekend; oh joy. Did you see the sunset tonight? It was amazing, even people in London had an amazing sunset so it seems we all did - like the earth was on fire!

    I love your Hellebores - I recently bought another one too. Naughty me, just waiting for its bloom to open so I can show everyone how stunning she it :D
    Look what you've done to me!!!! ;)

    My Coum are also blooming, although they're much more pink than yours???!!

  4. Hi Liz,

    Amazing sunset, took my breath away.
    I sat in the conservatory just looking out....lovely.

    Once you start on the hellebore route, there is no going back Liz. It would seem you are hooked.
    I went to a small nursery yesterday and they had a really large greenhouse full of them. How I walked away without any I will never know. It took all my willpower and more:) I have so many now, I am without doubt addicted.

    Coums, hmmmmm, the soil maybe? Mine are white and very pale pink.....I am also getting slightly (well more than slightly actually) obsessed with these little beauties.

  5. Hi Cheryl,
    Your woodland area is so lovely!
    One of the things that most inspired me about permaculture gardening was the idea that you should always have a wilderness area of the garden where you just let nature take care of itself. It reminds me of the delicate balance between managing things and letting them be.
    Hellebores are one of my mum's favourite too, she also has many! I don't have any here yet bur I can imagine they are easy to get obsessed with. :) That purple one is divine.

  6. Hi Cheryl,

    Sadly I was at work watching the sunset and really, really wanted to run to the window and take some photos with my phone, but I couldn't. Someone had just given me something urgent that needed doing before I left and it was like 4:30 when I noticed the amazing sky. My brother got some photos though so hopefully I'll get to see them some time.

    I may or may not have just ordered myself a selection of Hellebores off the internet... Including stinking Hellebore... Who knows... But I suspect a package might just arrive for me in the next few days ;)

    Now I just need to find space for them, especially as I hadn't realised stinking hellebore gets so large... Hrmmm.

    The coums I saw last spring at Hodsock priory were also a bright fuchsia colour - which it why I decided to get some for myself; and mine are the same colour, a bright pink? Oh well, either way they're still Cyclamen and still blooming in early spring :)

  7. cheryl, your woodland area is so pretty! I love it that you try to just leave it to spread and grow in the way it wants. So enchanting:) My entire backgardens are wooded and I am attempting to create with transplanted woodland plants, a similar type of environment here at Comfrey Cottages. I am like you and joyfully get on my belly to gaze up into the little flower faces:) thank you for sharing with us xxx Leslie

  8. Hi Cheryl. What a delightful array of beauties from your woodland garden. Hellebores are also one of my all time favourites .... they are slowly on the move across the garden. Thanks for the tip about egg shells for the dainty Cyclamen ... I'll have to try that one out. Cheers FAB.

  9. Your woodland space exudes peace, tranquility and shelter. I think it's important to leave a space of "wilderness" in the garden.

    Your pics are so clear, I feel I could reach out and touch the soft petals of your hellebores.
    I hope your cold spell doesn't damage any plants. We also are in for a cold spell, although our gardens are buried, so no fear.

    Keep warm, Cheryl.

  10. Hi Lucinda,

    I think from a wildlife point of view, the wilder areas are far more beneficial. I must confess, I prefer them to a neat and orderly landscape.

    I bought my first hellebore many years ago now and fell in love. I can truly say I never tire of them.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  11. Hi Liz,

    Ha! Can't wait to see your new babies. Ooooh I wonder if you have any unusual cultivars.
    Stinking hellebores, in my experience, grow up rather than spread. Mine are underplanted with epimediums and look really lovely.

    Coums hmmmmm, I assumed you had bought them the same colour as mine. I think they come in all colours pink, pale pink and white.

    Have a good weekend.

  12. Dear Comfreycottages,

    Tku for dropping by and welcome.

    Lovely to hear that you will be creating a natural space in your garden. Wonderful for wildlife and you :)

    Laying down taking photographs is not easy but it does make me smile.....I am glad my neighbours are not too close to see me trying to get up elegantly :)

  13. Hi Frank,

    Where have you been :)
    My helebores are slowly is great when you find little plants by the mother. I have potted some up and keep them in the greenhouse. It will be nice to see them flower never know we might have an unusual variety.

    Coums to benefit from smashed egg shell sprinkled on the soil around them.

  14. I have a tiny woodland area at the bottom of my garden and hadn't thought of planting hellebores there although I have them in other areas. I shall try a couple and see how they do. Like you I leave it mostly to its own devices, there's a log pile and a pile of old stones in a corner and some really thick ivy to give both food and shelter to those who want it.

  15. Dear Cheryl,
    Your Woodland Garden is my favorite kind of garden. I love the way yours is in balance. The gentle Cyclamens touch my heart.
    Your Hellebores are exquisite. Seeing blooms in January is wonderful....thank you for the photographs.
    We have had a strange winter. Roller coaster temperatures and little moisture have me concerned. Once again our temps are to rise only to plummet by mid-week. I will be making sure the birds have fresh water.

  16. Hi Wendy,

    The frosts have been quite harsh, although there appears to be little frost damage. Of course, as the seasons progress I might just be proved wrong :(

  17. Hi Rowan,

    I have found that hellebores work really well in woodland areas, as long as there is a bit of moisture.
    I hope that yours will be successful :)

  18. Dear Sherry,

    It is always a concern when there has not been much rain.
    I know you had a very dry summer, also winter temps have been above average.
    I do so hope that the weather pattern goes back to what it should, be in the not too distant future.

  19. Aha, I figured out the secret to getting the comment box to pop up! Your farmer made me laugh, Cheryl:) And I love the double hellebores!

  20. Love the hellebores and cyclamen. And I'm a big fan of lichen and decay--I love the look of your woods, and I can see why wildlife does, too. In the first photo, is that a mini greenhouse int he background? I like it! What's in it?

  21. Hi Monica,

    The item you refer to is a reproduction Victorian cloche.
    It has a tiny hellebore seedling in it. I did this so the rabbits would not dig it up. Whilst they would not eat it, they love to uproot small plants.

  22. What an absolutely beautiful area. If I can create something even half as delightful in our Coppice I shall be more than delighted.