Boxing Day Flower Count 2012


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

14 thoughts on “Boxing Day Flower Count 2012”

  1. I must say that your Mahonia is looking magnificent! There’s so many of them planted in the municipal areas in and around where I live but none of them seem to look either as good i.e. showy or as healthy as yours. Frankly, I hadn’t been over-keen on them really they look a bit nondescript unless in flower – but that just goes to show how much the plant’s appearance and health is so dependent upon correct growing environment and careful cultivation.

  2. Hi,

    Lovely Mahonia; still don’t have one but really think I ought to for early Bees!
    There’s not much blooming here either, but I have spotted a couple of surprises and am happy to see bulbs are now appearing not only in pots but also in the ground… Not long now!

  3. Your mahonia will be ok if you do bite the bullet and prune it hard, but enjoy all the flowers first
    Thank you for your seasonal greetings on my own blog, all the very best to you and yours.

  4. Mahonnias have grown on me over the years but I have never grown one in my garden – my currently flower-less garden. Last year I had violas but everything’s adrift and awash this Christmas. Experts can be maddening. I find it with doctors too – I say ‘This is happening’ and they say ‘No, that doesn’t happen’ – and I am stumped. It’s precisely where finding people with common experience (whether in gardening or in health) can be so liberating.

    Best wishes for 2013.


  5. Pretty little treasures – if you are saying spring on way – I am definitely not saying autumn on way – WE WANT SUMMER first. Very rainy humid 95% humidity over Christmas – very sticky. Remnants of cyclone that hit Fiji and Samoa. We are house/dog sitting in beautiful bush setting – pungas, nikau palms, pohutukawas etc . Nice and peaceful to try and relax with Ji deteriorating rapidly with liver and bowel cancer. First oncology pallitive appointment tomorrow. Very overwhelming – so fast. My garden is mostly at no3 daughters so has had plenty of rain. Who knows when they will be n=mine again! Look after your little gems. Happy new year!!X

  6. Hmm – haven’t done this yet. Partly because not very well, partly because the garden is so flipping muddy that anyone walking about just slips and slides everywhere. I think it will have to wait for the New Year – but boy, do I wish I’d something as spectacular as your mahonia to report!

  7. Nice tradition to have. Ours, once the garden was open for the NGS was to garden on New Years Day. If cold and frosty, it could be collecting twiggy bits and making bonfires. On milder NYD’s it would be noting flowers or weeds! You may find some ideas in The Haphazard Gardener. Happy New Year wishes.

  8. I like this tradition. If only I was at home in my own garden, I would create a post myself and record the number of blooms out on Boxing Day. Of course, here in the tropics, we do well with blooms all year round so I know I would find a few.

    Loved all your blooms, especially that stunning Mahonia and Grevillea. How fantastic that your Grevillea blooms so early for you. I don’t think plants rely on the advice from so-called ‘experts’ when it comes to blooming time. They have their own blooming cycle.

  9. Not sure what was flowering here Helen but I’m sure that I would have lagged behind in the count. My mum’s East Anglian garden yielded viburnums, snapdragons, violas, polyanthus, daphne, cyclamen, winter flowering jasmine, heather and a white flowering unidentifiable plant. There is usually a couple of winter flowering clematis in flower but sadly they have been drastically pruned. I think that your pulmonaria is probably rubra ‘Redstart’. Mine opened earlier this month.

  10. You have a lot of rather lovely things in flower! I haven’t done this this year but may have a look tomorrow. I am pretty sure it will be sparse pickings! I love your mahonia too. A really good one like yours is a fabulous plant.

  11. I love your Mahonia xMedia ‘Charity’. This plant is on my wish list for this spring. I am looking to expand the habitat for the hummingbirds in my garden. I understand the find this an ideal spot for them to build a nest. Great picture, thank you for posting.

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