Suddenly things are moving fast, especially with the bright sunny days we’ve enjoyed recently. The twiggy branch ends of the dark leaved ornamental plum outside my bedroom window have been thickening up with dark pink buds clustering along their sides, now the first few are opening to little white blossoms, nothing spectacular but the first blossom is always fun.
Hellebores are just beginning to show their faces. First the excitement of seeing the Post Office farm nursery purchases of 2015 flowering for the first time, so far two lovely blacks, the single being a better quality black that the double, plus a very large flowered pale lemony primrose on a very sturdy plant. The primrose is an impressively large substantial bloom but when I compare colour with those in my garden originally from Hill View years ago it’s no better. A fair number of rescue pots of hellebores that had been badly neglected in their former home are pushing up flowering buds for the first time this year, they occupy a bit too much space so this is my opportunity to discard any that aren’t sufficiently attractive to keep, but the three comely ladies below are definite keepers
The Canna ehamanii clump that offers so much value over summer is rustling its great brown frosted sails in the breeze now. Will have to tackle pruning it back to the ground to make way for the spring growth but I’ll leave it for a while so the top can protect the base from the currently frequent frosts.
Galanthus are coming in an unseemly rush, doubles Lady Beatrix Stanley, Rodmarten, Dionysus, Heffalump, and singles Maidwell L, John Gray, Mrs Mcnamara, Mrs Thompson (in her varied forms), Ikariae, Wasp, and the lesser known Erics choice — more pushing up every day with their little noses pointing to the sky.
Below clockwise from the left; Lady Beatrix Stanley, Rosemary Burnham, Spindlestone surprise, Dionysus and Heffalump
G. Lady Beatrix is a particularly dainty double with only two tiny green dots on each inner petal, both she and Dionysus flounce elegantly suspended on extended pedicles. G. Rosemary Burnham is very charming but I was stunned to see single bulbs priced across a range of 30 to 125 pounds sterling in UK nurseries. Galanthus Erics choice (flowering for the first time for me) initially looked a little haphazard but the later blooms are displaying a light elegance with their soft green markings and long outer petals. Frustratingly a hunt on the Internet and check through the Snowdrop book failed to offer any pics of Erics choice for comparison, however he seems happy this year with roots exploring out through the pot into the compost below. I’ll be careful not to move that pot till christmas!
A couple of hepaticas are putting out their perfect little china doll flowers rather early and the hamamelis is already strung with tiny yellow ribbons. It was a struggling transplant a few years ago from the Plantsman’s much warmer and dryer garden so I don’t know which of the many yellow flowered varieties it is, but the reputedly sweet scent, while pleasant, is slightly acrid. The scent that always stops me in my tracks at this time of the year is that emanating from the miniscule wispy flowers on the Sarcococca bushes growing near the front door, getting noticeably stronger as the evening darkens. There are usually lots of babies growing underneath and I keep meaning to nurture and plant them further afield — one day!
Dahlias have all browned off in the series of frosts over the last couple of weeks, the job of cutting the tall ungainly stalks back had been started but all gardening work both here and at 400 will cease briefly while I recover from a knee arthroscopy. This year time must be found to remove the top layer of tubers that have piled up in mounds at least a foot off the ground — I say that every year, oh dear.
So many more lovely treats to enjoy in winter, miniature narcissus (correctly identified I hope) with a very early tulip grown from seed collected on the Akrotiri Peninsula
Two weeks in a row I had the joy of watching wedge tail eagles floating above me at Lesley Vale as they scoured the paddocks for small furry lunches, and now we’ve turned the solstice corner the Blue wrens are courting in the cherry plum
Still reading, enjoying and learning from Ian Young’s bulb log on the SRGC website, the pics of their garden are stunning, and are inciting a dangerous passion for erythronium. I’m inspired to sow more seed, finally started on some of last years galanthus seed plus the last of the three year old crocus seed from our 2014 trip. Tulips and cyclamen are still waiting, fingers crossed life will emerge from those tiny packages. Success with seeds will of course present me with the problem of finding spaces to squeeze more plants in and I haven’t the time to dig up more lawn
Crocus continue to open and shine in the sun, although rather too much overhead sun for these photos —
especially pleasing is the positively incandescent Crocus cvijicii from the top of Tria Pente Pigadia in Mount Vermion, a very steep and laborious climb that I attempted twice and succeeded with once (knees again!)
We also gathered a single year old hip of a flowering Rosa alpina two thirds of the way up that ski run, the single result of which is now in my garden.
Another beautiful surprise is the first bloom on this Iris aucheri (plus honey bee on the far left) which looks far too delicate to open in the middle of winter. Its perky little friend on the right has no label, but is maybe a histrioides ? I’m a little concerned about aucheri coping with the amount of morning dew this garden receives channeling its way down those deeply v-ed juno leaves and causing rot.
The label on this pot reads Cyclamen repandum, which doesn’t seem likely for any of the assortment that have arranged themselves so attractively together. I can only assume cross seeding from neighbouring pots.
Spotted dog christening his new and decidedly expensive bed-with-special-dog-warming-foam filling, and finding it perfectly satisfactory