The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Colour planning of the garden by George F Tinley, Thomas Humphreys and Walter Irving (London, 1924)

February color planning

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Early in February comes the bloom of the different kinds of the Lent Hellebores. They are the species and garden varieties of H. olympicus, H. orientalis, H. absehasicus, and H. atrorubens. They are mainly in shades of a quiet purplish-red with a darker spotting, and as they intercross freely the variation of tint and marking seems to be infinite. Of several there are white varieties, the patches of white-flowered plants serving as a pleasant break in the general purple colouring. With them may well be grown the little shrub Daphne Mezereum, whose bloom, of a low-toned pink, tones well with the colouring of the Hellebores. There are still some flowering plants that may join into the same harmony and that can with advantage be inter-grouped with the Hellebores, or be planted on their outskirts. The best of these will be the fine form of Megasea ligulata known as M. 1. speciosa. Its flowering time is nearly that of the Hellebores; its colour, a pleasant, tender pink, is not too clear to interfere with its lower-toned companions, though it is best when massed with the white Lenten flowers. The roundish, leathery leaves are in pleasant contrast to the other palmate foliage. A place that is partly shaded in summer is the best for the Hellebores and also suits the Megasea; such as a border on each side of a path backed by nuts, for the Hellebores are in flower before the leaves of the nuts come, and so get the benefit of the late winter sunshine, while for the rest of the year they are glad of the shade. The nuts, which will be some of the good kinds, cobnuts or filberts, will in time arch over the path, so making a pleasant shady way from one part of the garden to another. Crocuses will be in flower in February. Besides their use in garden ground proper, they are still better in open woodland or any half-shaded grassy places. For the best colour effects it will be found advisable to plant the purples and whites in the shadier or quieter places�though shade in February is barely more than nominal�and the strong yellows in the open, and not to have the three colourings in view at the same time. As in many matters connected with wild gardening this requires more care in the doing than many more regular garden operations. It is certainly best to plant the Crocuses in long-shaped drifts rather than in patches, and, above all, never, as has sometimes been seen, in concentric rings round a tree. The drifts, a little wider in the middle and narrowing into nothing at the ends, may be of any length, according to the space of ground that has to be planted, and they had better be more or less parallel to the path or most usual point of view; each drift or adjoining group of drifts being of one kind only. In a large space two or three of the purple shades may find a place, with a stream of white here and there, but the white had better be less in quantity than the purple.