Winter Aconite are often the first flowers of the New Year to appear, they beam a golden glow into the garden at a time when the sun rarely breaks through the clouds. These native European woodland plants are among the earliest to flower in February to March. These rugged plants often send their shoots up through snow, producing a bright display when planted in large numbers under shrubs and deciduous trees.
It can usually be relied upon to spread itself around by seed, a process that can be speeded up with a little help. With time it will spread to become a carpet of pure golden yellow. Eranthis hyemalis flowers have of 5 to 8 bright yellow petals that form a cup-shape and are surrounded by dark green leaf-like ruffs of lobed bracts that look like a collar around the blossom. The flowers are sensitive to warmth, they will remain tightly shut on cold days and only open if the temperature reaches around 10°C (50°F). It produces star-shaped seed pods and dies down completely after spring.
Growing to just 13cm (5in) tall, it spreads up to 10cm (4in) it begs to be grown en masse, preferably somewhere that gets the morning sun. These buttercup relatives spread their sunny goblet flowers in woodland borders in early spring. In fact, for many gardeners, they’re the spring season’s first flower.