Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden

Galanthus nivalis 'Anglesey Abbey'

Galanthus nivalis ‘Anglesey Abbey’

A brief visit to Chelsea Physic Garden this week was like a dip into paradise. Well-known as a garden of historical significance this garden in the very centre of London and has an interesting collection of plants and it is guaranteed to raise the spirits at this time of year.

For me, snowdrops raise the spirits like almost nothing else. As they come into flower it is a sign that winter is all but over. There are plenty of snowdrops in this plant collection and it is always a pleasure to enjoy them as they come into flower. Look out for Galanthus nivalis ‘Anglesey Abbey’ . It has small bright green leaves which help to distinguish it from many of the others and it is flowering well. Near-bye the large blue-green leaves of Galanthus elwesii var.elwesii form a thickish clump above which large long snowdrop flowers hang, the flowers bobbing in the breeze on the long flower stems. There are plenty of snowdrop species and cultivars to enjoy in this garden and you do need to come and see them on the advertised snowdrop open days. Look for differences in the flower markings, size, colour and shape and marvel at their charm.

The glasshouses are further havens of peace and calm and I love the Pelargonium collection tucked into one of these ‘growing rooms’. These plants seem not to have stopped growing this year and some are still in flower. Look out for the purple and mauve  flowers with deeper stained lines on the inside of the petals. Sadly the flowers are never scented but this is more than made up by the sweet scented leaves. Rub the leaves from the different cultivars and species. Pelargonium quercifolium ‘Royal Oak’ just to the left of the door is one of my favourites.

Be on the lookout for other signs of plant springing into growth. In the order beds, Paeonia masculata subsp. triternata is pushing up new growing points. This plant is native to SE Europe and Turkey and loves the micro-climate of this garden where growth here is so early in the season.

The skeletal outline of deciduous trees can also add their charm. Davidia involucrata is still covered with last years fruits, hanging like pom-poms from the branches. |They are solid and jangle slightly in the breeze of this otherwise tranquil garden. As you leave the garden, draw in the elusive scent from the petaless flowers of Sarcococca confusa. There is a large green bush of this plant just be the door. This sweet scent and the memory of the snowdrops will keep the feel-good factor with you if the winter comes back to haunt us.