If you look hard enough this week you should see some tiny Winter Aconites peeping out from the undergrowth along the path under the lime trees. Some are over but a few are still in flower. These lovely little buttercup-like plants are among the first up to catch the spring sunlight, and live out their short growth season before the tree canopies leaf out and cast too much shade. Thier latin name is Eranthis hyemalisand they come from the deciduous woodlands of southern France, Italy and the Balkans where they carpet the woodland floor at this time of year.
Aconites are happy in sun or shade but their tubers hate to dry out and ours are probably struggling a bit as the soil under the limes gets very dry in summer. The most successful way to introduce them into the garden is to plant them ‘in the green’, ie when they’re in leaf, somewhere where they won’t need to be cut back at all, but can just fade away come Summer.
Once they’re happily established they will self-seed around the place, or you can divide them by breaking the tubers and planting them out. They look particularly good with Pulmonaria(Lungwort) whose mauvy blue flowers complement their silky yellow ones.