This is the time of year to enjoy the back of your flowers.

Partly because they are very low down at the moment. It was years before I realised when I was thinking about planting things that in spring things have not had much time to grow so they tend to be small, but in late summer they might be taller than me – just because they’ve had longer to make the effort. Spring flowers tend to be a few inches off the ground.

Fritillaria meleagris at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Head down – and who could complain at that?! (fritillaria meleagris)

And lots of these low down plants keep their heads down. At the moment, with a cold north wind, that seems very wise.

Oxalis acetosella at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Wood sorrel trying to escape a bitter wind. 

We can stay standing up to enjoy these flower backs. Hurray: if things are growing at six inches it’s quite a big bend to get to see the face.

Erythonium Pagoda at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Erythroniums are essentially back flowers.

But we have a habitual need, I think, to look into the faces of flowers. It’s a bit like the way we start by sniffing a flower for scent if someone offers it to us, even if it’s made of silk. Habit. We turn a flower up. And it’s one of the big things about breeding hellebores – the latest and ‘best’ have stopped hanging their heads and may even look up at us. Or at least stare frontwards, indifferent to you.

Hellebore copyright Anne Wareham

Hellebore staring.

It’s ok having a hellebore look at you, but it isn’t necessarily the most beautiful sight. Try this:

Hellebore at Veddw copyright Anne Wareham


 The back is often as beautiful as you could wish for if you didn’t think the front was the business.

Sometimes it’s not totally clear whether you are supposed to admire the front or the back. 

Cowslip at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Is this what a cowslip would like us to admire?


Cowslip at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Or this?

And there are some flowers which specialise in backs. Tulips are at their most characteristic when they first open and the back is all we see.

Tulips copyright Anne Wareham


Though we usually stay around for them to do the wonderful procession of opening up fully, then slumping and sagging until they finally reach a decadent collapse.

Tulips in conservatory, Veddw, copyright Charles Hawes

On their way……

And sometimes, beautiful as the back may be:

Rosa Felicia at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

you have to try the front for the best scent..

Rosa Felicia at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham


But some flowers love to make it very difficult to see anything but their backs – they grow on trees:

Magnolia at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

That works all right for me.