This Month in the Garden February 2022 with Kate Hill

As you will have read in the newspaper, sadly we lost my uncle, Derek Cox who wrote this page for many years, in December.
As a tribute to Derek I’d like to relate a little tale of serendipity. Derek had asked me if I would like any of his many gardening books so I went to have a look through them. As we were chatting I began telling Vi and Derek about the stunning little geranium I’d found growing in one of my borders. I can only presume I’d bought it at one of Brooksby Gardening Club’s plant auctions and, to be honest, it had got rather crowded out by other plants and forgotten about. However, during lockdown I rediscovered it and was quite blown away by the intricate kaleidoscopic markings on the flowers but I had no idea what variety it was. I proceeded to show Vi and Derek a photo (see left). I then glanced down and on top of the bookcase was a book of wildflowers – imagine my surprise to see a picture of “my” geranium on the front cover. Needless to say I was delighted to accept that book and now I know the name of the plant – Geranium versicolor (or Pencilled crane’s-bill) – I have been able to send away for three more bare-rooted plants which I have dotted about the garden and which have now started to put on some new growth.
Now, whenever I see those delightful flowers I’ll think fondly of Derek and the happy times we spent wandering around either his garden or mine talking about plants and continuing the discussion over a cuppa and his favourite chocolate biscuits. I only wish I had a quarter of his knowledge and memory for plant names. I am so grateful for all the advice he gave me – he was always eager to share his vast knowledge of the plant world and I shall miss him greatly.
Looking around the garden at this less than inspiring time of year it’s always good to see some plants that can really cheer you up on even the dullest of days.
One of those plants is Choisya Sundance which keeps its yellow leaves all year round and in spring, like all Choisya varieties, produces scented white flowers and will often flower for a second time in autumn. Choisya Aztec Pearl is another valuable evergreen shrub with attractive finely cut leaves but Sundance can stop you in your tracks with its fantastic foliage.
Another plant I obtained from the aforementioned plant auction was one of our native irises, Iris Foetidissima.
Although its flowers are not showy like many of its relatives, being a rather dull banana yellow with brownish markings, its leaves are strappy in shape and evergreen and in the winter it bears clusters of bright orange berries which provide a welcome splash of colour.