Back in late 2009, the narrow border running along the edge of the lawn in Delos was extended to incorporate the large Mulberry tree (Morus nigra) and the area of lawn beneath, which had become difficult to mow. This created a new planting area designed by Head Gardener Alexis Datta, to compliment the existing planting style in Delos, and to include early spring flowering bulbs, Hellebores, Fern species and other herbaceous plants.
Regular visitors to Sissinghurst will have already enjoyed the bright yellow display of Winter Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) earlier in the year, and now they are able to see another drift of yellow blooms, but this time belonging to the later flowering species, Eranthis cilicica. This species, one of eight in this genus and belonging to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) was wisely chosen by Alexis, to avoid any inevitable cross pollination with its neighbours and spoil the overall effect. However, Winter Aconites are avid self seeders, so in time, they will soon cover a wide area if allowed to. Another feature of this species is its deeper, golden yellow petals, and like the more commonly seen Aconite (E. hyemalis) will start to send up pretty, bright green leaves once the flowers have reached their peak.
So should you plant Winter Aconites and how do you create a natural effect? Well, of course you should, providing you have a fairly damp shady area to grow them, beneath deciduous trees and shrubs being ideal. Plant them ‘in the green’ in spring, or later in the autumn, when the rhizomes are dormant. To create a naturalistic display, ensure you plant in informal groups and when planting the bulbs, scatter them over the desired area, and then plant each individual bulb with a trowel or bulb planter wherever it lands. Then, in the following spring, you too can admire the results.