Itea illicifolia, and Azara variegata, these are both just outside the kitchen door. The Itea with its long catkins reaching up to our bedroom window, and the Azara variegata facing it on the other side of the terrace outside the drawing room. So if you go out of the drawing room door you get wafts of chocolate or marzipan scent in March. This is on a north wall as is the Itea illicifolia. There are two or three plants of sarcococca as well keeping them company. I am sitting in the kitchen while I am writing this and facing me are several hellebores and snowdrops which are increasing well. In fact even on a gloomy day like this are all these little winter flowers to cheer one up, including the buttercup yellow aconites. Down the bottom of the garden in the crocus lawn is one sole white crocus bravely flowering on its own. There are quite a few anemone blanda keeping it company. We are going to have to get back our MOLECATCHER man as we seem to have quite a few molehills in the paddock. We have just had my elder son Dominic, Hetty, and George and Arthur staying, and James’ mother. The children were so sweet, and George loved Tensing and Temba.
It is funny there still seems a lot to do in the garden, cutting back and weeding. The border which takes ages is the Autumn Border as it is so large. George aged 2 and a half gave me a hand in the garden, and loved putting the border fork, twice as big as him, in and out of the wheelbarrow. He just would not stop! Polly has already planted a lot of tulips, and we are having a photographic workshop with Clive Nichols here on May 10th, 10-4. The tulips should be about at their best, we hope. I have just been in to the greenhouse and flowering away were all the beautiful salvias that Polly gave me last year. If you asked me what I would choose for a winter plant, my immediate answer would be hellebores. They flower for three months, and need relatively little care. We cut the leaves off in November and put them in the brown bin rather than the compost heap, as they would take too long to rot down. We mulch them with leaf mould, and under plant them with snowdrops and cyclamen. We have them in almost all our borders, and in the summer you do not really notice them.