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Last year I started a new tradition of counting how many plants were flowering on Boxing Day.  I was surprised last year to find 12 different plants, some of them obviously flowering quite early due to the mild weather we had.

This year hasn’t resulted in as many.  In fact looking out of the window you would think it was only Mahonia xMedia ‘Charity’ that was in flower.  It is a real showstopper although I have discovered that the local squirrels are using it as a launch pad on their way up and down the adjacent trees.  I have decided to bite the bullet  and chop the plant right down after it has finished flowering in order to encourage new branches to appear.  Since pondering on this earlier this month I have read numerous articles in which this treatment is advocated by reputable gardeners so I will just have to be brave.

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Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has just started to flower.  The shrub is smothered in buds and I managed to find two or three that had just opened.  This was a most rewarding sight having had a disagreement with a speaker at a recent horticultural talk who told me that Grevillea didn’t flower until June.  He wouldn’t take my word for it that mine flowered earlier.  Annoyingly, as is often the case in these situations, I started to doubt myself when confronted by an ‘expert’ so didn’t press the point.  Looking back through the blog the Grevillea was flowering last Boxing Day so this isn’t an abberation and the plant label I found says it flowers Spring.  I just wished I had had the courage of my conviction at the talk.

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This little primula has been flowering for weeks.  I have no  idea where it came from but every year it flowers very early.  Luckily the birds ignore it unlike the cowslips just near it which seem to attract the Greenfinches when they flower; for some reason the birds just sit and peck the flowers off and discard them around the plants.  I can only assume they are after the nectar.

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The pulmonaria has just started to flower.  I’m not sure which one this is and to be honest I don’t even remember buying it.  I will have to have a look through my label box and see if I can find its original label.  It nestles in the shade of a lower growing Acer so I only just spotted its pretty pink flowers this morning.

Finally I have a window box full of violas which I much prefer over their gaudy, blousey Pansy cousins.  They are such a pretty plant and I have decided that I need to plant out many more next year to add winter colour in pots and the border by the house.

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I have just started to read Margery Fish’s ‘An All Year Garden’ and already I feel I need to address my winter garden by adding more violas and also cyclamen.  I have Cyclamen hederifolium which has been wonderful the last couple of months but this morning showed only one sad little flower left blooming and that was well past its best.  I also have Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’ still hanging on to its flowers but again they are looking a little battered.

So the total count this year is 7 plants in flower, if you count all the violas as one, which is down on last year’s 12.  I think this is because we had a real cold snap earlier in the month which I don’t remember from last year.  I also noticed that my snowdrops are only just showing their heads above the ground and last year I had some in flower on the 15th January.  Snowdrops is another plant I want to add to for next Spring and I want to try to get some earlier flowering varieties than my standard Glanathus elwesii.

I also noticed that the Hamamelis, the Sarcococca and the various hellebores were all in tight bud so hopefully it won’t be long before there is more colour in the garden and Spring is definitely on its way.

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