A few early spring flowers

Iris-KHMy favourite Iris reticulata cultivar is ‘Katharine Hodgkin’. Strictly speaking I. reticulata are late-winter bloomers brightening up the February gloom, but my bulbs often don’t flower until well into March. This cultivar is a hybrid between I.winogradowii and I.histrioides and, provided with free draining soil and some sunshine, flowers well. The above bulbs are in a pot. They were mistakenly dug up last autumn from beneath a weeping pear. They were then unceremoniously and temporarily shoved into an empty pot and forgotten until I found them blooming earlier this month. It appears benign neglect hasn’t been detrimental.

We’ve had a week of on and off sunshine here in Norfolk and most of the cherry trees are just about coming into bloom. However, even in more sheltered gardens the double blossoms are still only fat, about-to-burst buds. Sadly, the forty-year-old cherry tree in my father’s garden has died after a combination of old age and over vigorous pruning, but the Magnolia soulangeana lives to bloom for another spring.

View over the Yare Valley. Who said Norfolk was flat?

Magnolia soulangeana is a flowering tree. It is often planted as a feature tree as I think this one was. It was originally surrounded by lawn, but rebuilding of the house and the introduction of a terrace has resulted in it now growing up against the terrace wall. Its moment of glory is fleeting, but as it’s so early in the horticultural year it is most welcome after the grey, grey winter.


It has plenty of blooms which can now be easily appreciated from standing on the terrace and looking down into the tree – a new and unexpected perspective.

Over several winter weekends I emptied all my pots in preparation for moving house.


I did take a few photos of the winter garden just before it was partially deconstructed.


It was hard, awkward work emptying the big pots and the biggest two pots with fifteen-year-old clipped yews had to be left.  I couldn’t even budge them and I couldn’t bear to cut the yews to pieces. It all ended up making me feel like  .  .  .  .  .  Sad-figure2

Still, an overflowing tub of grape hyacinths is an uplifting sight,


as are the magnolia flowers.



Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

15 thoughts on “A few early spring flowers”

  1. You’re moving? All those garden comparison photos are at an end then. That’s a lot of pots, and a lot of pot volume. I’m sure you know this after hefting them all about.

    1. Yup – I’m moving. House is sold, contents including pots in storage and currently running everything from my father’s whilst waiting for something suitable to turn up in Suffolk. Will probably end up with a much smaller garden, but hey-ho!

    1. Well, sadly I don’t think that is going to be possible – I am hoping to move back to a more city location and gardens are mostly much smaller. I am going back to Suffolk to be one county nearer to London where my daughter now lives.

      1. I am sorry to hear the garden part, but glad about the daughter part. And maybe there will be a different outlet for gardening in the new place. I have a friend who has moved to another state and now has a job in a garden/farm center that was not possible here. So who knows what possibilities! I hope so because you seem very in tune with gardens and nature in that way.

    1. Thank you. Nooo, not a gardening guru just a pedant who likes to get details right. Although, 12 years ago I did ‘design’ the garden, dig over every inch not covered by grass path and garage, and plant pretty much everything you see, but sadly was too feeble to do the hard landscaping. Can’t even lift a 25kg bag of shingle these days. 🙁

    1. Yes, these days, since joining the blogging world, I am very conscious that as we northern folk noisily move out of winter the southern hemisphere begins experiencing the onset of autumn. Interesting world though now, isn’t it, sharing and appreciating the shared global cycles?

  2. I met a German woman when we were driving around Victoria last December who wanted to know “what is that magnificent tree?”. “Oh, a magnolia” I answered. She was very surprised, to the point I doubted myself. Now I see from your photo what a very different variety we have here. We have several of course, but the most common is a tree that bears white flowers with a bright yellow stamen. Good luck with the house hunting and re-establishing a garden. I am contemplating dressing up our balconies, but pots only on an ocean facing, salt, wind and coal dusted location will limit what I can plant!

    1. Magnolias are amazing. It’s an ancient, ancient genus with plants evolving all over the world. I expect you have some special Australian ones. House hunting is very, very slow at the moment, looks like we will be moving temporarily into rented. I had expected this might happen so I prepped hessian and offcuts of silk, cotton and wool to continue my rag rug hooking work. It can be carried out virtually anyway.
      ‘Coal dust’?? – is that local or swirling across the whole country? Global climate is fascinating. Every now and then we get red sandy dust dropped on us apparently originating from the Sahara Desert. This delights the tabloids with headlines like ‘Blood rain forecast’.
      Regarding you balcony dressing this UK gardener has a few ideas – don’t know how applicable they are to your local weather conditions.

      1. I didn’t know that about magnolias. A similar one that always catches my eye is Gordonia. I wonder if they have an ancient common ancestor? The coal dust comes from the port nearby. It is piled on the wharves awaiting export, and is regularly sprayed with water to keep it densely packed, but inevitably some drifts around in such fine particles that one is unaware until cleaning window ledges and such like. The red wind dust sounds like the Mistral??? We sometimes get it too, from the vast Australian inland. Thanks for the gardening tip – I will read it over a cuppa.

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