We are now in February at Denmans Gardens and there is an explosion of colour throughout the garden from the many bulbs that are now appearing.

The Galanthus (snowdrops) and Eranthis (winter aconite) that I mentioned in January’s notes are now out in all their glory.

Some of the Galanthus are “new” to us, as they have appeared in areas, such as the Nut Walk and by the Cottage, that we have cleared this past Autumn and into Winter.

We have no doubt that they are original plantings by Joyce Robinson many, many

years ago, that are now showing themselves thanks to the increased light.

The dark purple hellebores near the Nut Walk are especially prolific this year.

We have several forms of Helleborus orientalis in a variety of shades in flower in the garden at the moment and in the aforementioned piece on the “ Nut Walk”, where they are predominately of the deep smoky purple colour.

We believe they were probably planted at the same time as the Galanthus, in a deliberate contrasting colour combination by Joyce.

Dark purple hellebores near Nut Walk

Helleborus argutifolius looking especially spectacular in the late winter landscape.




Other forms of hellebore looking fantastic at the moment are Helleborus argutifolius hybrids and Helleborus foetidus, both with glaucous green foliage and brilliant chartreuse coloured flowers.






Narcissus “Hugh Town” is the first daffodil to break bud at Denmans.

Our first daffodil is also out and, like a few other daffodils in the garden as they flower into spring, gives us a challenge in identifying them as they were planted many years ago, sadly without being recorded.

The daffodil that is out at the moment under our Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn redwood) and to the right of our entrance doorway is a multi-headed form with yellow peranth and orange cup-shaped corona. It is scented and has 4-6 flowers per stem.  After requesting help from the RHS and their daffodil register, we are pretty confident it is a tazzetta type called “Hugh Town” available circa 1987 onwards.

Daphne “Perfume Princess”,  just planted in the Walled Garden, is new to Denmans this year.

Talking of scent, we believe Joyce was very keen to have scented plants throughout parts of the garden to help visually impaired visitors.

At the moment we have Daphne odora marginata and a new hybrid Daphne “Perfume Princess”, Chimonanthus praecox (winter sweet), Sarcococca confusa and Sarcococca hookeriana var Dygiana (Christmas Box), Mahonia x Media Charity and other forms, all  beautifully scenting the garden with their perfume.

Acacia dealbata (mimosa) was a favourite of John Brookes.

There are other splashes of colour to be seen around the garden, such as Acacia dealbata (mimosa) with its powder puff yellow flowers (a firm favourite with John Brookes), also Cornus as (cornelian cherry) and Bergenia cordifolia.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that as I write, we have experienced a mild winter so far and climate change is a hot topic of conversation and dialogue around the world.  Here at Denmans, we are blessed with a generally favourable micro-climate each year, but we are seeing several very early signs of new growth on some plants that started in late January.

For example Fuchsia magellanica “Hawkshead” is very advanced and leafing out and the buds of Sambucus Nigra “Black Lace” are very big and about to open.

This is concerning, because it is likely we will get cold snaps before winter is out, and this young growth will be hit.  A frost can cause dieback n certain plants that have budded out, so we will have to monitor them throughout the garden.  We will put a light fleece on them to protect them if necessary.

Nevertheless, this is a garden and gardening is always throwing up challenges….. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Graham Best, Head Gardener